First Medical Marijuana TV Ad Set For Limited Release
Mixed in between television advertisements for cars, burgers and sodas will soon be ads for medical marijuana. At least in select states.
"We wanted to find a way to gently introduce it to the American public," said John Nicolazzo, part owner of Medical Marijuana Doctors.com. "We've waited for a long time for a moment like this to get medical marijuana into the mainstream media where it's accepted. This is really the first of its kind."
Nicolazzo says it's the first TV ad related to marijuana that's been allowed.
Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, has agreed to run the ad in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Chicago.
Nicolazzo says his company links patients with local doctors in the 20 states where medical marijuana is now legal.
"Americans still have freedom of speech rights that we can broadcast if a proper message is being displayed," Nicolazzo told 10TV. "I don't know whether this will become the norm and whether other companies will jump on the bandwagon looking for commerical advertisement because we are very limited in when we can display ads like this."
Comcast says it will only air the ad between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and it will not appear on non-news related channels.
The one minute ad features a faux dealer pushing sushi in the street.
At one point, he opens up a coat filled with raw fish and the announcer says, "You wouldn't buy your sushi from this guy. So why would you buy your marijuana from him?"
It ends with, "Book your appointment today!''
20 states have now legalized medical marijuana, but Ohio is not one of them.
Petitions are currently being circulated to get the Ohio Alternate Treatment Amendment and the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment on the ballot.
Supporters will need 385,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
At least one advocate says it will be 2016 before Ohioans have a chance to vote on it.
"They are struggling to get signatures because Ohio is a very tough state to get something on the ballot," said Rob Ryan, president of Ohio NORML. "It takes almost as many signatures as it does in California, it's quite tough. You need a couple million dollars just for the structural process. But if you put medical marijuana on the ballot now it will pass."
A Quinnipiac University poll last month showed nearly 9 out of 10 Ohio voters support legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.
Over half, 51 percent, support allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of pot for personal use.
"Marijuana legalization is going to happen," said Ryan. "So let's deal with it, get used to it and take control of it."
Opponents of legalizing medical marijuana say the extra time will benefit their argument that pot isn't healthy or safe.
"We think people are in favor because they just don't know what's involved in it," said Marcie Seidel from Ohio Drug Free Action Alliance.
Still, the ad is historic in the way it normalizes what it is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government.
"For Ohio you're going to begin to see laws put into place to help patients and gain legal access to medical hannibas," said Nicolazzo. "We are gaining incredible momentum with marijuana laws."
Democratic state representative Bob Hagan has sponsored a bill to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio.
Hagan has announced that he's challenging Republican US senator Rob Portman in 2016.
Portman's office did not respond to a question about his position.
Check out the medical marijuana ad