Cable television company Comcast has approved what is beleved to be the first commercial for medical marijuana clinics to be shown on major networks, The Verge reported on Tuesday.
The ad for MarijuanaDoctors.com, which bills itself as a service through which residents in states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana can find certified providers, began airing on Monday in New Jersey and Chicago, and has been seen on networks including AMC, Comedy Central, ESPN and Fox, among others. It is scheduled to begin airing in Massachusetts next week. The commercial is being shown between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and is not being aired on networks like Disney or Nickelodeon, which specialize in programming oriented toward children.
“Securing the airtime for our commercial on a major network was extremely difficult and at the same time, extremely satisfying,” MarijuanaDoctors.com CEO Jason Draizin said in a statement. “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.”
USA Today reported that, while medical marijuana supporters are cheering the ad’s debut, it has also been criticized by legalization opponents.
“This is capitalism at its worst,” Smart Approaches to Marijuana spokesperson Kevin Sabet was quoted as saying. “Comcast is choosing profits over public health.”
Sabet also accused Comcast of trying to attract viewers “staying up late who want to get stoned.”
Rather than explicitly showing marijuana, the commercial focuses on a satirical depiction of a street “sushi dealer,” who tells the viewer, “I got tuna, I got salmon, I got sweet shrimp. I got the finest sashimi this area has seen in years.”
After the dealer shows off his “product,” an unseen female narrator asks the viewer, “You wouldn’t buy your sushi from this guy, so why would you buy your marijuana from him?”
Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, defended the commercial to USA Today, saying it should not be treated unlike any other website providing a legal service.
“It’ll probably be shown between beer ads,” Tvert was quoted as saying. “But at least it won’t objectify women and suggest that drinking beer is the only way to have fun.”
Watch the ad, as posted online by MarijuanaDoctors.com on Feb. 26, below.