Face Off: marijuana ads

Are marijuana ads on television beneficial or promoting usage in teens and young adults?

Nathan Kowsky and Mary Conaway

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Marijuana and cannabis have always been a very controversial topic in the United States. While medicinal marijuana has been legalized in many states under certain circumstances, many health benefits have been noticed, including improving the body’s ability to fight cancerous cells and prevention of seizures, according to fda.gov. That said, only thirteen states have legalized recreational marijuana.

CBS broadcast the 53rd Super Bowl this year, where they banned an advertisement for medical marijuana. The ad was made by Acreage Holdings, which was simply advocating for medicinal usage for people suffering from preventable conditions. While CBS is it’s own company and can choose what it shows, it seems ironic they would stop a medical ad when they showcase alcohol ads like its nothing. Obviously, alcohol is federally legal, but it has no health benefits, unlike cannabis. I wonder why alcohol ads are allowed to show like it’s nothing while tobacco ads are federally illegal.

Between alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, marijuana is definitely the least harmful drug and the only one with realistic health benefits, says drugabuse.gov. Yes, it is a legal decision from a private company, but it seems many companies or often the government are unwilling to hear people out about certain issues, including marijuana, hinting towards censorship.

Another company, MedMen, recently released a popular marijuana ad featuring Jesse Williams and directed by Spike Jonze. It calls for total legalization. The ad pointed out the vendetta against marijuana, and how the social stigma against it is the only thing holding back legalization in many cases.

If people were to open their eyes and recognize the fact that marijuana could make life liveable for millions, and even save lives entirely, then this wouldn’t be a problem. Yet CBS and dozens of other companies will remain hypocritical with their broadcasting decisions.

 

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In 1971, the Public Health Care Cigarette Smoking Act was passed making it illegal to advertise smoking on the television or the radio. But as of late, marijuana ads have been wanting to make it to the big screen.

Legally, depending on which state has made marijuana legal, they are allowed to advertise it. But the growing cannabis industry runs into some trouble when trying to get their ads televised. The Washington Post reported, “Online platforms with prime advertising space like Facebook and Google do not allow the promotion of illegal drugs on their sites […].”

With the increasing number of states legalizing marijuana, the cannabis industry has been getting larger. But many adults and parents are concerned with the idea of the drug becoming legal nationwide. Making cannabis advertising legal in each state would possibly increase the amount of social platforms advertising the drug, making children more vulnerable to seeing these types of advertisements.

Researchers are concerned about whether or not it will increase the usage amongst today’s youth. Rand, a  left-leaning research corporation sponsored by U.S. government agencies, conducted a study between the increase in seeing marijuana ads and whether or not it increases usage. They reported, “Youth who reported that they’d seen more ads also reported greater marijuana use and more positive beliefs about marijuana […].”

Heart disease is the number one killer in America, commonly caused by mass alcohol consumption, smoking, or poor diet habits. Yes, no one has overdosed on marijuana. And yes, the latest research has shown it is not as harmful as a lot of other illegal drugs. Unlike other illegal drugs, marijuana has proven to have medicinal purposes as well. However, we haven’t researched long enough to know if smoking marijuana directly leads to lung cancer. The National Institute of Drug Abuse has revealed that long-time marijuana smokers and cigarette smokers face similar consequences further down the road.

The possible risk marijuana poses on long-time users is still unknown, which is the reason its advertising should be kept in a controlled environment where youth are less likely to see the ads. Business Insider reported, “Colorado only permits advertisements of recreational marijuana if the medium can show that the audience is more than 70% over the age of 21,”  This keeps impressionable young teens from seeing marijuana as “safe.”

It all comes down to making sure today’s youth are properly educated on the subject. Just because it was in an ad, doesn’t make it true. The long term effects of marijuana are still unknown, and I’m sure none of us want to be the lab rat.