It was all over the news on Tuesday: CBS rejected a public service announcement highlighting the benefits of medical cannabis, which was intended to be aired during the 2019 Super Bowl.
Long story short, what happened was Acreage Holdings, one of the largest U.S. based cannabis companies, which counts former House Speaker John Boehner and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld among its advisors, created a 60-second public service announcement (or ad, if you will) featuring three medical cannabis patients and their loved ones explaining how marijuana had changed their lives for the better — and suggesting it is a great alternative to other more dangerous pharma drugs.
The company submitted the ad to CBS and was ready to pay the estimated $5 million to $10 million it would cost to air during the 2019 Super Bowl.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering that cannabis remains illegal on the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, CBS rejected the ad. A network spokesperson told USA Today that, for the time being, pot-related ads did not fit CBS’ broadcast standards.
Interested in getting some athletes’ insights, Entrepreneur reached out to Treyous Jarrells, a former Colorado State running back who had to quit football so that he could continue to medicate with cannabis, and has since become a vocal cannabis advocate and entrepreneur. “I’m a huge activist when it comes to the cannabis space, but I see why CBS rejected this ad, being that it’s tied to the NFL… Knowing what we know about how cannabis is viewed when it comes to professional sports, especially football, it only makes sense that the ad was rejected; the NFL still views cannabis as a banned substance.”
Marvin Washington, former Super Bowl champion turned cannabis entrepreneur, investor and advocate with Athletes For Care, told Entrepreneur that “Acreage made a nice play for the industry and the future, and cannabis will be commercialized. Even in being denied, they showed the nation the future of cannabis. It will be mainstream.”
Harris Damashek, chief marketing officer for Acreage Holdings, said the decision was hypocritical. “You will see countless ads (during the Super Bowl) for beer and erectile dysfunction medications but our ad with an educational goal to help people who are suffering is rejected. That is the irony we are looking to highlight.’’
A lot can be said and discussed about this topic. And much has been discussed already. However, since Acreage Holdings did not release the footage, very few people have seen the ad but Green Entrepreneur has managed to get its hands on the material, exclusively.
The ad opens with Austin, a young man suffering a seizure caused by epilepsy. His mother, Amy Bourlon-Hilterban, from Florence, Colorado, explains that “Austin would have dozens to hundreds of seizures every single day,” and that prescription medications were not working.
Then, we see Greg Kazmierczak, who declares to have been hooked on opioids for 15 years, using them to treat his back pain, and Ryan Miller, a military veteran who also suffered from excruciating pain after losing a leg during the service.
All three of them had found a better treatment alternative in medical cannabis.
“Medical cannabis saved Austin’s life,” says Amy Bourlon-Hilterban, echoed by other patients and their family members. “It’s [cannabis prohibition] not just unfair. It’s cruel,” she ends, as the screen displays the following words:
The time is now.
Please call your U.S. Representative or U.S. Senator to advocate for change now.
And finally, for the moment everyone has been waiting for, the cannabis-themed public service announcement Acreage Holdings wanted to run during this year’s Super Bowl — but couldn’t.