What do California and Massachusetts have in common, other than the fact that their teams are facing off in the Super Bowl on February 3? In both states, both medical and recreational cannabis are legal.
Along with the game, the commercials are among the event’s biggest attractions for viewers, but CBS has nixed the airing of an ad by Acreage Holdings touting the benefits of medical cannabis. Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia permit the use of medical cannabis, but NFL players are not allowed to use it.
The federal government still lists cannabis as a Schedule I drug. CBS states their broadcast standards do not permit marijuana advertising.
Ad May Go Online
The motto of Acreage Holdings is a so-called seed to sale cannabis firm, is “Leading the way to safe, affordable cannabis for everyone.” The firm’s advisors include former House Speaker John Boehner and former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, both Republicans. The company’s president, George Allen, told USA Today that he’s not particularly surprised that the network and the NFL rejected the ad.
He adds, “And that is actually less a statement about them, and more we think a statement about where we stand right now in this country.” The ad was more in the form of a public service announcement than an advertisement per se, according to Acreage Holdings officials. There is no marketing of cannabis involved.
Although the ad won’t appear during the Super Bowl, it is already available online. One Acreage Holdings executive notes that Super Bowl ads are heavy on beer and erectile dysfunction medications, but an educational ad focusing on relieving suffering was unacceptable.
Acreage Holdings created a 30 second and 60-second version of the ad. According to Acreage Holdings representatives, the longer version features a Colorado boy suffering from Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy featuring frequent and prolonged seizures. In the ad, his mother says her son used to experience hundreds of seizures daily – for which prescription drugs were useless - until medical marijuana brought them under control. She calls cannabis prohibition “cruel.”
The ad also features a Buffalo resident who endured three back surgeries and used opioids for 15 years for pain control. Now, medical marijuana controls his pain and “gave him his life back.” An amputee from Oakland who lost his leg while serving in the armed forces states that medical cannabis stopped the unbearable pain he was suffering.
The ad ends with the words “The time is now” on the screen. It then requests viewers call their Congressional representatives and ask for a change in the nation’s cannabis laws.
NFL Players and Cannabis
Even though those now playing in the NFL can’t use cannabis for medical purposes, that’s not the case with former NFL players. Eben Bretton, a former Chicago Bears offensive tackle, suffered many of the injuries common to players in this physically demanding sport, including torn muscles and ligaments and sciatica. He says the way NFL players have to deal with their injuries is via medications such as Percocet or Vicodin, or over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (“NSAIDs”), which are “toxic on the body.”
The drugs seriously harmed Bretton, but the use of medical cannabis not only healed his pain, but also his anxiety and stress over his injuries. Other former NFL players tell similar stories. Perhaps the best known is Joe Montana, a four-time Super Bowl champion. According to Montana, “Legalization is picking up steam on a global level and I feel like now is the time to spread information about the curing capabilities of this plant.
As with any medicine, increased accessibility comes with the need for education. Cannabis eased my pain. It also put me in a state of healing and relief.” It is obvious medical cannabis is not going away. Perhaps Super Bowl 2020 will feature an ad too “controversial” for this year’s game.