Following the launch of two medical cannabis branches in Boston, the Medical Cannabis Network, the leading provider of marketing and business solutions for the cannabis industry, will be launching the first cannabis-related commercial in New England for MarijuanaDoctors.com, a company that specializes in medical cannabis treatment.
Scheduled for an April release, the commercial aims to raise awareness about medical cannabis in Massachusetts and encourage users to purchase the substance through secure, certified branches, rather than outside sources, said Jason Draizen, CEO of MarijuanaDoctors.com.
“We’re not an advocation agency and we don’t endorse recreational marijuana of any type,” he said. “It’s simply a service to help physicians and patients. We’re hoping that the ad will get in front of physicians in the state of Massachusetts, as well as the patients that qualify or are in need to medical marijuana.”
The advertisement will feature a man selling sushi out of the palm of his hand with the tagline, “You wouldn’t buy your sushi with this guy, so why would you buy your marijuana from him?”
MCN booked airtime for the advertisement through Comcast Spotlight under the conditions that it contained a disclaimer and did not air during primetime. The ad will air between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on stations that are not oriented toward families or children.
Draizen said MarijuanaDoctors.com is interested in creating a similar advertising campaign for potlocator.com, another site they own. Like MarijuanaDoctors.com, the purpose of potlocator.com is strictly for medical purposes.
Bill Downing, treasurer of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, said advertisements for medical cannabis are necessary because some residents are still unaware that the substance has been legalized for medical use in the Commonwealth.
“A lot of residents who might still be under the impression that medical marijuana remains illegal would probably be given the clear signal that medical marijuana is now actually available, legally available,” he said. “These are doctors who are selling services to write medical marijuana recommendations, and they want to be sure that the public is aware of their offering so advertising is entirely appropriate.”
Heidi Heilman, president of the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance, said more research on medical cannabis is needed before MCN airs advertisements about the substance on television.
“This is medicine based on public opinion and not on science or research, and that’s the real danger of this [advertisement],” she said. “It touts this practice of recommending and using marijuana for any ailment as sound treatment when very little of the medical industry is behind this because of the lack of research.”
Several residents said the advertisement could be an important resource, but it could also have a bad impression on children.
Todd Kent, 31, of Brighton, said the late hours of the advertisement’s showing will not keep kids from seeing it and misunderstanding its purpose.
“It’s not okay to advertise,” he said. “I don’t condone glorifying it to children. It’s on TV, kids will see it.”
Kelsey Whitaker, 24, of Roxbury, said the advertisement will be a good educational resource about medical cannabis but was also concerned about the ad’s exposure to children.
“I don’t think there would be any issues playing the commercial as long as it’s not during primetime when there would be children watching,” she said. “That would be my only concern, because you don’t want younger kids who are more impressionistic to be seeing these commercials and thinking that ‘okay, well, I need to then go find a doctor so I kind of get around having to buy through a dealer and just get it through a doctor.’”
Sharona Sinay, 23, of Brighton, said she supported the advertisement and both medical and recreational use of marijuana.
“I don’t see any reason why [recreational marijuana] hasn’t been legalized yet, just because it’s been legalized in other states,” she said. “It hasn’t been proven to kill anyone. People kind of do it anyways. As long as it’s legal, I think its okay to advertise it.”