It seems to be just a matter of time. Marijuana legalization is moving across the country. Today, 20 states already allow medical cannabis. On Wednesday, the Washington, D.C. City Council voted almost unanimously to decriminalize marijuana in small amounts, while Colorado and Washington state have legalized the stuff. It’s flowing into daily lives, and now we’re seeing the first network television commercial for medical marijuana–just playing right there on the TV like they’re selling Tylenol or Hot Pockets.
Airing on national networks in the state of New Jersey–networks like A&E, Fox, CNN, Comedy Central, Food Network and the History Channel–a company called Marijuana Doctors is making the case for buying the product from trusted clinical sources.
The television ad features a slick talking, back alley sushi-pusher selling tuna and sashimi from the inside of his leather jacket. The commercial ends saying, “You wouldn’t buy your sushi from this guy, so why would you buy your marijuana from him?” The message here, in form and choice of medium, seems to be right in line with MarijuanaDoctors.com’s mission of “legitimizing the process for the booking and selection of medical marijuana doctors.” Major network television is just about as normalizing and arguably legitimizing as it comes. And it’s telling that the networks agreed to air the ad. Sure, money talks. But so does viewer outrage. Apparently the networks didn’t think that would be an issue.
According to a press release, Marijuana Doctors CEO Jason Draizin said it took some work to convince Comcast that such a commercial is important and legitimate saying: “Securing the airtime for our commercial on a major network was extremely difficult and at the same time, extremely satisfying… We recognize that the sale and use of marijuana is still considered very controversial and we are pleased that Comcast understands that there are legitimate businesses providing legitimate and legal services to people who have legitimate needs.”
It took some guts for Comcast to agree to the commercial. This isn’t about selling happy-fun-time weed. This is about giving people safe access to a legitimate medication.
Medical marijuana is legal for the people of New Jersey and has been since 2010. They’re still dipping their toes into the cannabis thing, however, with quite a lot more restrictions on medical marijuana use for children than for adults, which seems odd since little kids seem like they’d be the ones least likely to seek the stuff out recreationally rather than for legitimate and serious illnesses. The state of New Jersesy only allows children to take medical cannabis in harder-to-obtain edible form, not liquid form as found in other states. Gov. Chris Christie recently rejected a bill that would have allowed people to buy marijuana in another state, in whatever form, and bring it to New Jersey.
This is still very much a national experiment which more and more states seem to be embracing. Mayor Vincent Gray is expected to sign the latest Washington, D.C. local legislation, then it will go to the U.S. Congress, which can reject it. The federal government, however, still publicly opposes the nation’s growing momentum toward legalization. The Obama administration’s statement about marijuana legalization on WhiteHouse.gov makes clear that they oppose it as a significant safety risk to the nation because it would “increase the availability and use of illicit drugs.”
So the debate continues, although with growing acceptance and opportunities for hard evidence on the efficacy of medical marijuana.
Image credit: Flickr/david_shankbone