CBS Denied A Medical Marijuana Super Bowl Ad And Some NFL Players Aren’t Happy

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Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Acreage Holdings, a medical marijuana company notably backed by John Boehner, was rejected by CBS when it attempted to buy ad time during next month’s Super Bowl.

Acreage told the publication that despite medical marijuana’s legal status in more than 30 states, the broadcast company “nixed” the ad after seeing a rough cut from the company as the February 3 broadcast looms near. According to some reports, the ad was to show the medical benefits of marijuana for a U.S. veteran.

The advertisement aimed to “create an advocacy campaign for constituents who are being lost in the dialogue,” Acreage President George Allen said. Super Bowl airtime would have been the best way to achieve this, he added.

“It’s hard to compete with the amount of attention something gets when it airs during the Super Bowl,” Allen said in a telephone interview.

USA Today reported that a CBS spokesperson said the company rejected the ad because under CBS broadcast standards it doesn’t accept cannabis-related advertising.

It’s worth noting, of course, that Acreage is getting attention either way, which may have played into their decision to try getting an ad in the first place. People make a big deal out of rejected Super Bowl ads all the time, especially given the cost of the ads and how much attention the broadcast receives. But whether they wanted to get a viral buzz from the rejection or they honestly thought they could get an ad to run on air, that won’t be happening.

“We’re not particularly surprised that CBS and/or the NFL rejected the content,” Acreage president George Allen told USA Today. “And that is actually less a statement about them and more we think a statement about where we stand right now in this country.”

As news of the rejection spread some former and current NFL players reacted to the decision and criticized the league for allowing ads for some substances but not others. The most prominent of those was Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long, who mentioned the alcohol partnerships the NFL has.

Whether the NFL has anything to do with the rejection is unclear, but this heat check of sorts makes one thing plain: the majority of states may be on board with medical marijuana, but national broadcasting companies may not be ready to take weed money just yet. Maybe they can try Animal Planet.