CBS has made it clear that any advertisements for cannabis will not be featured during Super Bowl LIII, despite the growing support for the plant.
Acreage Holdings, a British Columbia-based cannabis company with operations in the United States submitted storyboards for a medical cannabis advertisement to CBS with hopes of being featured during the Super Bowl, but the ad was swiftly rejected.
The company received an email from CBS that said, “CBS will not be accepting any ads for medical marijuana at this time.”
Regardless of the fact that 33 states and counting have legalized or voted to legalize cannabis in some capacity, Acreage president George Allen believes this is an issue of the stigma that still surrounds cannabis use.
“We’re not particularly surprised that CBS and/or the NFL rejected the content,” said Allen. “And that is actually less a statement about them and more we think a statement about where we stand right now in this country.”
The ad, which would have cost $5 million for a 30-second time slot was to “create an advocacy campaign for constituents who are being lost in the dialogue” as the medical marijuana debate continues, according to Allen.
The advertisement was going to feature the stories of three medical cannabis users and how cannabis has helped them manage and overcome their symptoms. Rather than promote any products, the ad was positioned to advocate for change and act as a call for politicians to push for that change. The three people featured were a boy with Dravet syndrome, a man with an opioid addiction and a veteran who lost part of his leg.
“We’re disappointed by the news but somewhat unsurprised,” Allen told CNN. “Still, we developed the ad in the spirit of a public service announcement. We feel it’s our responsibility to advocate on behalf of our patients.”
Unfortunately, due to the fact that cannabis still maintains an illicit status at the federal level, companies like CBS are unlikely to want to be associated with the industry. That said, national polls have shown public support for cannabis to be at about two-third and growing. It’s been a historical year for cannabis, so perhaps companies like Acreage will have a better shot in 2020.
“It’s hard to compete with the amount of attention something gets when it airs during the Super Bowl,” said Allen. “We certainly thought there was a chance. You strike when the chance of your strike has the probability of success – this isn’t a doomed mission.”