In 2010 the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) was on the cusp of running the first pro-pot billboard ad in New York City’s Times Square. However, despite being solicited for discounted ad space, NORML’s video billboard spot was rejected at the last minute by CBS – which owns the space. It was the fourth time in eight years that CBS snuffed out NORML advertising.
This week it appeared that WeedMaps – a website that provides dispensary and strain information – would succeed in providing the first-ever marijuana legalization ad in Times Square on a 26’ x 20’ jumbotron. The WeedMaps ad was scheduled to run for 60 days alongside conventional advertisements for major mainstream corporations like Coca-Cola and Disney. However, just like NORML before them, WeedMaps ran into CBS.
The billboard video ad was supposed to enter the rotation on Tuesday, April 2 but it never appeared. According to WeedMaps CEO Justin Hartfield, the campaign is in limbo as CBS has yet to OK or officially reject the ad. Stuck in a perplexing holding pattern, Hartfield told HT, “I hope CBS does the right thing but I’m not holding my breath.”
The ad itself isn’t exactly over the top. In fact, it’s about as understated as an ad for marijuana legalization could possibly be (read: if CBS rejects this pro-pot advertisement, it is unquestionably the sentiment, not the content, that’s at issue).
While WeedMaps is most useful in states that have legalized medicinal and/or recreational marijuana, a campaign in New York is important to the company. In an official statement, Hartfield wrote: “[WeedMaps] strongly believes that marijuana prohibition ruins the lives of countless New Yorkers. We’re denying them access to needed medicine. The purpose of this campaign is to help push legalization and promote responsible marijuana use in a professional, highbrow manner.”
Check out NORML’s rejected ad from 2010: