Everyone remembers having to take health class at some point in their education. It seemed like every health class that I took included at least a few weeks of drug and alcohol education. Often, that meant warnings about the dangers of everything from methamphetamine to prescription drugs with an assortment of personal testimonies, medical proof, and scare tactics. Some non-profits even put anti-drug advertisements on television. Take for example the Above the Influence ad below, in which a teenaged girl’s dog asks her to stop smoking pot.
(“Anti Weed Commercial”)
With the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington a debate has risen as to whether or not it is ethical to advertise marijuana. The photo pictured below was emailed from a medical marijuana dispensary in Rhode Island advertising Christmas promotions and discounts.
However, recently the Attorney General, Peter F Kilmartin, released a statement explaining his stance strongly against advertising medical marijuana: “Can you imagine the public outcry if the local pharmacy started offering [half] off Oxycontin or medicinal drugs?” and explained that, “Compassion centers should be held to the same standard and should be prohibited from offering discounts or sales on medicinal marijuana” (Malinowski, 2014). I think that I generally agree with the Attorney General on advertising medical marijuana. However, I understand that the company was also probably trying to make their product more affordable for its customers that can legally buy it.
But what about the advertising of recreational marijuana in the states where it is legal. Understandably, there are restrictions on advertising tobacco products due to their danger to both the user’s health and to the health of those around them, with secondhand smoke. However, there seem to be fewer restrictions on the advertising on alcohol. The questionis, how will the advertising of marijuana be regulated, if at all? Denver, Colorado actually banned the outdoor advertisement of medical marijuana back 2012 (Wyatt, 2012).
According to CBS News’ website, ad agencies have begun preparing for advertising marijuana when/if it becomes legal. Although it seems that campaigns targeting “stoners” are already out there, like Taco Bell’s “Fourth Meal” campaign, which targeted young people with “the munchies”. Clearly, ad agencies will have to overcome obstacles like stereotypes and anti marijuana campaigns if they want to reach out to demographic groups outside of “stoners” (Kennedy, 2014). All in all, it will be interesting to how just how marijuana will be advertised in the future.
Anti weed commercial. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Kennedy, B. (2014). Ad agencies prepare for the legal marijuana market. Retrieved from
Malinowski, W. (2014, February 5). Medical marijuana advertising stops after r.i.
attorney general questions practice. Retrieved from http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20140205-
Wyatt, K. (2012). Medical marijuana ads under attack in denver. Retrieved from