On February 3, the Super Bowl will be broadcast, featuring incredible big-budget ads and trailers for the year's most anticipated movies. And in between all those awesome commercials, there will be some stupid football game. However, there's one ad you won't see: Acreage Holding's emotional spot touting the benefits of medical marijuana. (All those beer commercials are fine though!)
Although it's illegal on the federal level, thirty states have legalized cannabis for either medical or recreational use. According to Medical News Today, marijuana has helped patients suffering from chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, depression and anxiety. There's also evidence cannabis has been effective at treating the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and vomiting. It also increases the awesomeness of The Big Lebowski, which is already pretty awesome.
Acreage, a public company in the cannabis cultivation, processing and dispensing business, proposed a Super Bowl ad advocating the plant's potential to alleviate pain. CBS' broadcast standards do not accept any form of cannabis-related advertising, but the firm hoped to circumvent these restrictions by describing their spot as "a call to political action," rather than a pitch to sell products.
According to USA Today, Acreage proposed a thirty-second ad and their ad agency emailed storyboards to CBS. The network turned down their pitch, replying, "CBS will not be accepting any ads for medical marijuana at this time." However, a sixty-second version of the rejected spot has been published online. In the stirring commercial, three people suffering from various health issues describe how medical marijuana has improved their lives.
A thirty-second Super Bowl spot reportedly costs $5 million, a small price to pay to advertise during one of the most watched-events of the year. The ad could have convinced people struggling with illness to try medical marijuana to get some relief. "We’re disappointed by the news but somewhat unsurprised," Acreage President George Allen told CNN Business. “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."
Marijuana is banned in the NFL, despite the fact the plant would help many athletes alleviate the pain that comes with playing a contact sport. But apparently the ban isn't stopping anyone from using it. On The Bleacher Report podcast hosted by Chris Simms and Adam Lefkoe, retired tight end Martellus Bennett estimates that "89%" of NFL players use marijuana. On Twitter, Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long pointed out the NFL's hypocrisy with marketing, writing, "Keep pumping the booze ads, guys!"
It's strange that marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, considering the clear evidence of medical benefits, and the incredible amount of revenue generated by recreational sales. If the powers that be don't care about helping people, you'd think they'd at least care about making money. Actually, maybe this controversy isn't that strange, considering the surprising reason marijuana was made illegal.