Publisher’s Note: Should We Advertise Pot?

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In a staff meeting recently, a manager commented on the many medicinal marijuana ads in the latest edition of the local alternative newspaper, the Sacramento News & Review. There were more than two dozen in the issue, containing a variety of enticements, such as “ounces for only $199” or “free lighter with first order.” Another ad underscored the apparent ease of getting a doctor’s recommendation to smoke pot for treating pain or other ailments, saying, “Get approved or no charge.” Many ads looked to be unconcerned with medicinal use, their design reminiscent of the 1970s rock concert posters I recall from my days at UC Berkeley. In our meeting, we speculated about when a cannabis dispensary would seek to advertise in this magazine.

In late 1996, the state of California legalized “doctor-recommended” marijuana via Proposition 215. Nowadays, dispensaries of medicinal marijuana are growing, as SN&R’s ads clearly illustrate. For some time, Sacramento magazine’s policy has been to disallow cigarette ads, which would include weed. Should we change our policy?

Two days after the staff meeting, a local cannabis business expressed an interest in advertising in Sacramento magazine. We debated allowing it under certain guidelines, with no consensus. Coincidentally, the next day I met a woman who had smoked marijuana while enduring chemotherapy for her cancer. I asked about her experience with marijuana. She said that she did not smoke weed to ease the pain, but for relief from nausea, and added that smoking it stimulated her chemo-impaired appetite. She also told me about another benefit attributed to pot: that it reduced the swelling of the eye caused by glaucoma. I’d not previously been clear about these benefits— might they be of interest to Sacramento’s readers who deal with these maladies?

Attitudes about smoking marijuana have changed, but I am against its legalization. Many in my baby boomer generation embraced drugs in previous decades, and progressed from alcohol to pot and then beyond—to cocaine, hallucinogens and other drugs. Granted, smoking cannabis may not correlate closely to use of harder drugs, but, like alcohol, it impairs judgment and has negative side effects. Some people close to me struggled fiercely with alcohol, then pot and other drugs, and believe that experiments with drugs in the ’70s and ’80s did our generation no favors, causing damage to many and serious harm to some.

As we considered what to do about accepting cannabis ads, we spoke to medicinal marijuana dispensers, lawyers, readers and advertisers, and decided not to accept the advertising. I’d like to know what you think. Tell us your opinion.