TV Execs Reject Proposal for Super Bowl Medical Marijuana Commercial
CBS has no problem with beer and liquor companies selling their intoxicants during the big game, but apparently green-friendly ads are still out of the question.
Published on January 22, 2019

The television executives in charge of selecting Super Bowl ads know that sex sells, and that booze brings in big bucks. But when it comes to promoting medical marijuana during the biggest commercial day of the year, CBS big wigs are still skittish.

According to a report from Bloomberg, execs at CBS, the channel with exclusive rights to next month’s big game, have rejected a proposal from American medical marijuana company Acreage Holdings to run a 30-second Super Bowl ad championing the legalization of medical cannabis.

Over the past few years, the highly anticipated half-minute breaks between touchdowns and turnovers have taken on increasingly social and political tones, with AirBnB, Budweiser, and more airing ads denouncing Trump’s travel ban in 2017, and companies like Toyota pushing social justice and racial equality advocacy in 2018. But it appears that cannabis reform is still too taboo for TV’s big wigs.

Acreage Holdings, which made headlines last year when former Speaker of the House John Boehner joined the company’s advisory board, said that it was ready to pony up the network’s full $5 million ad fee and had specifically structured the commercial proposal as a “call to political action” instead of brand-focused advertisement. “It’s hard to compete with the amount of attention something gets when it airs during the Super Bowl,” Acreage President George Allen told Bloomberg. Nevertheless, the company ran into unwavering barriers from CBS.

But as liquor companies from across the globe prepare to spend millions on comedic spots aimed at encouraging as much alcohol consumption as possible, the complete ban on all things cannabis is already drawing attention from legalization supporters in the NFL.

In a tweet uploaded Monday morning, outspoken Philadelphia Eagles player Chris Long posted a news story about the rejected MMJ ad, alongside the sarcastic caption, “Keep pumping the booze ads, guys. You’re doing great!” Joining in the CBS ridicule, ESPN commentator (and ABC employee) Mike Golic added, “Gotta be tough for them to do business with their heads buried so deep in the sand.”

And yet still, no matter how many players — both retired and active — proselytize the near-miraculous effects of cannabis on their battered bodies and brains, the league and its partners have refused to budge on their anti-cannabis stance. 

Despite increased conversation about medical marijuana’s potential uses in the NFL taking place over the past few seasons, and legalization moving further into the league’s most popular locations — including the home cities of this year’s two remaining teams, the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots — it will apparently take at least one more year before legal weed can even be tangentially associated with America’s most brutal pastime.

Watch the nixed commercial below, courtesy of cannabis reporter and MERRY JANE contributor, Javier Hasse:

Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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