|This is claimed to be the first time an ad for medical marijuana has ever aired on mainstream television.|
Sacramento FOX affiliate KTXL, "FOX40," on Monday morning ran a paid TV advertisement for a medical marijuana dispensary, thought to be the first time an ad for medical marijuana has ever aired on mainstream television.
The 30-second ad, paid for by Sacramento-based CannaCare and produced by KTXL, features patients delivering testimonials on the benefits of medical marijuana, reports Matthew Keys at FOX40 News. Text at the bottom of the screen indicates that marijuana can be used to relieve symptoms of many illnesses, including diabetes, HIV, hepatitis C and hypertension, among others.
Note that in the TV news report from FOX40 above, reporter Elissa Harrington manages to miss the point when she compares marijuana ads to alcohol and tobacco ads. Neither alcohol nor tobacco is used for medicinal purposes as is marijuana -- and, of course, neither alcohol nor tobacco use comes with a doctor's legal authorization, as does cannabis -- so there's no reason that broadcast rules applying to recreational substances should be applied to medicine.
Marijuana is not shown at all in the TV ad, and the word "marijuana" is never used. Patients interviewed in the ad, along with the narrator, refer to pot as "cannabis."
The CannaCare advertisement is likely the first such ad promoting medicinal use of marijuana to ever run on a mainstream television outlet, according to Mike Armstrong, KTXL's acting general manager.
"It is a matter of record within the medical community that medical marijuana can have positive results in helping relieve nausea and vomiting among cancer patients receiving chemotheraphy and increasing appetites among AIDS patients," Armstrong said.
According to Armstrong, the ad is "no different from that of any medicine" advertised by pharmaceutical companies on local television channels and cable networks for decades.
"Like so many other products advertised legally in media, it is a drug," Armstrong said. "When viewers watch the [advertisement] on air, they can see it's simply identifying this as an avenue to take if your doctor thinks it will help you feel better."
KTXL said it will air the ad during both morning and evening newscasts, and throughout the day.
"I'm curious what viewers will think about this," said Brandon Mercer, news director at KTXL. "We believe in giving the viewers a strong voice in our news products, and we certainly are going to hear a lot of opinions."
Mercer responded with a "no comment" when asked about how he felt about the ad airing during news programs, but later said the station would delve into more details surrounding the ad during KTXL's evening newscast, "FOX40 News at 10 p.m."
The CannaCare ad is not running as a public service announcement, but instead as a fully-paid commercial advertisement, according to KTXL. As with most TV ads, the station won't disclose how much it was paid to produce and air the spot.
Advertisements promoting marijuana use, or even just promoting a discussion on pot legalization, have come under debate since Facebook decided to stop running "Just Say Now" ads promoting the passage of Prop 19, California's November ballot initiative which would regulate and tax marijuana for adults.
For more on the CannaCare advertisement, including an interview with representatives from CannaCare, an interview with the advertisement's producer and more on the station's decision to air the ad, watch FOX40 News at 5:30pm and at 10pm. To see the ad in full, watch FOX40 Live Monday morning starting at 4:30am.