UPDATE: KATU pulls the historic commercial after intense media coverage.
The first marijuana business commercial to air on network television in Portland, Oregon, will air this Wednesday. A commercial for the upcoming Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference (OMMBC) will be on during the evening news on KATU, the ABC affiliate in Portland (full disclosure, I help organize the OMMBC). While the cannabis industry and movement has made great strides in recent years, the fight for equal treatment continues on many fronts, including advertising outlets. Even though medical marijuana legalized first in California, all the way back in 1996, it made national news when the first medical marijuana dispensary billboard in the Bay Area went up in December of 2014. Network television has been very hostile to the marijuana industry, as a cannabis commercial was yanked from the TV schedule before ever airing in Denver.
It makes a lot of sense that the first cannabis commercial on network television isn’t for a vape pen or a dispensary, but on a conference designed to help people navigate the rapidly changing cannabis industry. The OMMBC commercial doesn’t advertise that anyone should use marijuana, but that those in the industry, or thinking of joining the burgeoning industry need to know the latest developments with medical and recreational regulations while also networking with the top attorneys, professionals and experts in the field.
The landmark spot will run on KATU this Wednesday between 5pm and 7pm and run Monday thru Friday until September 10th. Alex Rogers, founder of the OMMBC and Marijuana Politics, hopes that the first cannabis commercial on network news will help educate people about the medicinal and economic benefits of the plant.
“When educated on its use, cannabis can and does help millions of people. This is the start of something that has been a long time coming,” my good friend Alex told me. “It’s only a matter of time before cannabis is treated the same as beer in regards to advertising. It only makes sense as cannabis is less toxic than beer and pharmaceutical drugs advertised on television.”
The trailblazing commercial:
Network television, particularly the evening news, is still very important in our culture and society. Many people have their worldview shaped by television and too often they see stoner stereotypes that perpetuate Reefer Madness myths. The more that everyday people see that the cannabis industry and community is just like every other segment of society, if not a bit nicer, then the more they come around personally and politically. Commercials like this and more and more talented people coming out of the cannabis closet will only add to the momentum we are seeing across the nation for sensible cannabis law reform. Hopefully soon, it won’t be big news that a cannabis commercial breaks into a media sector; but each time we break down a barrier, we are one step closer to freedom and equality. Just as the OMMBC helps people succeed and break into the cannabis industry, the fact that this commercial is airing during the network news, shows that the cannabis community is breaking through the cultural divide step by step.
The Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference is September 12-13, purchase early tickets by August 28th and save $100. See www.ommbc.com for more details.