Advocating for medical marijuana has hit the mainstream rather quickly.
Right on the heels of the New York Times’ breakthrough series advocating the legalization of marijuana, the paper also displayed a full-page ad touting the medical benefits of marijuana in the Sunday edition. The ad was commissioned by Leafly, an app company and website that locates and reviews medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington state, where marijuana has been legalized, according to AdWeek.
“We really think it is history in the making,” Scott Lowry, brand manager of Leafly parent company Privateer Holdings, told AdWeek. “It really would have been unimaginable a few years ago. Actually up until a few months ago, I think a publication like the Times would have told us no.” Lowry says the placement of the ad was suggested in direct response to the newspaper’s series of articles advocating legalization.
The ad’s focus is New York’s Compassionate Care Act, which recently legalized medical marijuana in New York for certain medical conditions. Ad agency Heckler Associates created the campaign’s artwork. According to AdWeek, “Like Leafly, both shops are based in Seattle. While Leafly would not reveal the cost of the ad, it pointed to the Times’ open rate of $179,908 for such a placement.”
Lowry said the ad was in response to a Times editorial series launched last weekend arguing to end marijuana prohibition, a stance that has also attracted anti-marijuana lobbyists with big budgets looking for a platform to use as a megaphone. More major newspapers are being targeted for ads on both sides of the debate, including The Washington Post. An anti-cannabis nonprofit names Smart Approaches to Marijuana wis also expected to run an ad in the Times this weekend for a website called GrasslsNotGreener.com.
There’s a lot of money on both sides of the marijuana debate, and I’m sure we’ll see more propaganda campaigns emerging on both sides of the issue in the coming years as more states lean toward medical marijuana and legalization.