For the first time in history, a TV spot for medical cannabis will be aired. Comcast, the country’s largest cable operator, has agreed to run the TV spot in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Greater Chicago, promoting a web service that connects patients, who seek medical cannabis, to doctors who are able to prescribe it.
Medicalmarijuana.com, run by CEO Jason Draizin, has been operating since 2013; however, Draizin thinks it is time to actively start promoting in order to expand. According to him, more than 300 doctors and 500 clinics, spread over 20 states, are members of the website and 93,000 patients nationwide have used his service last year. Doctors and clinics, who wish to become a member of the web service, pay Draizin a fee.
The TV spot for medical cannabis, to be aired next month, shows a shady man selling sushi on the street, followed by a female voice-over saying, “You would not buy your sushi from this guy. So why would you buy your marijuana from him?” The voice-over then suggests an alternative, namely the only web service that connects patients to doctors who can prescribe medical cannabis.
Comcast’s spokeswoman Melissa Kennedy says, “Comcast is the first to air a TV spot for medical cannabis and we are always very cautious when taking these types of ads, but lawyers have cleared the TV spot because medical cannabis is legal in the states where it will be aired.” According to Kennedy, the TV spot will only be aired between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on selected networks, including Comedy Central, History Channel and a number of news networks. Comcast has scheduled the spot 800 times over a period of two weeks in New Jersey.
Anti-legalization groups, such as Smart Approaches to Marijuana, are against the TV spot. Kevin Sabet says, “It is another way of commercializing and normalizing the use of cannabis. This TV spot is just directed to those who stay up late and want to get stoned, but claim it is for medical use. It is sad and it is capitalism at its worst.” According to Sabet, by airing the TV spot, the nation fails to keep away cannabis from children and others who do not need it. The Marijuana Policy Project goes against Sabet. Mason Tvert says, “At least it does not objectify women or suggest that drinking beer is the only way to have fun.”
Draizin understands the controversy, but strongly believes in his service. “We recognize that the sale and use of medical cannabis is still being frowned upon, but we are very pleased to hear that Comcast understands that we are a legitimate business, providing legal services to patients in need. With this web service, we want to bridge the gap between the provider and the patient. We do not encourage cannabis for recreational use in any way,” he says.
The first TV spot for medical cannabis will be aired around April 20, a day that is known for celebrating cannabis in the cannabis culture. Draizin has no doubt that the website will see an increase in members and patients after next month and is excited to see the response. He says that patients can fill out the form on the website and ask for an appointment with a certified physician in their area. The Massachusetts State Department of Public Health says, “A certified physician may only write a certification for a qualifying patient with whom he or she has a physician-patient relationship with.”
By Diana Herst