It may only be basic cable, but for marijuana, it’s a big step up.
An ad promoting medical marijuana, the first of its kind on cable, is appearing on several channels in Chicago and New Jersey. Both states allow medical weed, as does Massachusetts, where the ad will start airing later in March.
The first televised commercial for MMJ appeared on a Fox affiliate in California four years ago, but this is the first time such a promotion has been aired on national networks.
The ad, from MarijuanaDoctors.com, features a man in an alley with a seedy mustache. He offers black market sushi, displayed inside his trench coat.
“You want sushi?” the man asks. “I got sushi.”
A narrator then says, “You wouldn’t buy your sushi from this guy, so why would you buy your marijuana from him?”
MarijuanaDoctors.com is a website that helps patients in need of pot find doctors who can recommend it for them. So far, Comcast has broadcast the ad on Fox, ESPN, CNN, Discovery, Comedy Central and AMC.
It only plays late at night. Comcast officials said the company rejects spots for recreational weed.
“We do accept ads that refer to marijuana for medicinal purposes in those state that have legalized medical marijuana,” said Melissa Kennedy, senior director of communications for the cable provider.
Kennedy said Comcast is accepting ads from businesses that serve patients and providers, as well as ads from “vendors that provide operational services to retail establishments authorized by a particular state to sell marijuana, e.g., an ad from a software solution provider.”
She said Comcast might “want to tweak the guidelines,” raising the possibility ads or recreational weed might show up on late-night TV one day soon. She also said the company is “careful about the networks on which they air.”
Jason Draizin, CEO of MarijuanaDoctors.com, said it was “extremely satisfying” to see the ad air.
“Securing the airtime for our commercial on a major network was extremely difficult and at the same time, extremely satisfying,” Draizin said. “We recognize that the sale and use of marijuana is still considered very controversial and we are pleased that Comcast understands that there are legitimate businesses providing legitimate and legal services to people who have legitimate needs.”
Advertising issues have become a sticking point for legal marijuana in several states. In Colorado, for example, a weekly alternative newspaper and High Times magazine have sued the state over its marijuana advertising restrictions, saying they violate the First Amendment’s protection of free expression.