Times Square Billboard From NORML Denied By CBS

With great regret and chagrin to report, CBS has rejected a contract deal with NORML to place a pro-cannabis law reform advertisement on the biggest electronic billboard in Times Square (The CBS ‘Super Screen’ at 42nd St) claiming that the advertisement is too political. NORML had a contract for the 15 second spot below on the giant billboard (and a second one featuring President Obama and New York City’s high cannabis arrest rate with its shocking racial disparity in enforcement).

High Times breaks the story tonight here.
This of course makes no sense to have CBS reject a non-profit organization like NORML’s pro-cannabis law reform advertisement, when, during the Super Bowl on Sunday–the most watched TV event annually in the United States–CBS is scheduled to air a controversial anti-abortion television advertisement produced by the socially conservative non-profit group Focus on the Family (who, like apparently CBS, is anti-cannabis). Last year, CBS rejected an advertisement from the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org claiming it was too political as well.

The hypocrisy and double standard here is appalling. NORML and MoveOn.org ads are deemed ‘political’ and can’t be purchased and broadcast by CBS, but Focus on the Family can roll a political hand grenade in the form of an anti-abortion TV ad into American households on no less than Super Bowl Sunday for the full and desired effect of creating public discussion.

Worse, beyond the fact that CBS censors political speech, the company has no apparent problems making money off the general public’s strong interest in ‘marijuana’ as the network has established Marijuana Nation, an eye-ball sucking, archive-rich, comprehensive and well done webpage relating to cannabis found on the Internet (Ironically, CBS’ site competes with NORML and High Times’ general content for readers…).
There are numerous reasons why cannabis prohibition has lasted over 72-years, and when huge, mainstream media outlets (who control bill boards, radio and TV, etc…) pick and choose what organization’s free speech they support and those they don’t–recognizing that absent a vibrant and informed public discussion about needed public policy changes, like ending cannabis prohibition, those needed public policy changes take so much longer than they would organically absent the filter of mainstream, corporate-leaning mega media outlets.
Personally, I can only wonder what public discourse, with now even more corporate influence, is going to look like in America post the SCOTUS decision two weeks ago in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.

0 thoughts

  1. The justice system is completely fucked up in this country from marijuana prohibition to kids going to jail over flat out stupid shit. Another thing that bothers me is that people seem to look to the government all too often to make decisions or form opinions for them. What a lot of people need to start doing is make up their own mind based on facts and not stupid (obviously) bullshit propaganda like “marijuana makes you a insane rapist murdering asshole” Keep up the good fight Norml.org!!

  2. Russ, I was referring to the content of the sign. However, I agree with you that the look was equally as amateurish.

  3. Ok,people, we need to talk. I smoke nearly every day, and have been a pothead for nearly a decade (hell, I’m high right now) and I have to say that this is far fetched. Have we finally smoked ourselves retarted?
    The reason it’s too political is because you have a picture of Obama saying “I inhaled frequently, that’s the point”. It has little to nothing to do with the cause, it’s an issue with you directing this by picturing the president as a pothead. There is a very big line separating “add for the cause” and “The president gets high”.
    Did you ever think of designing a new add to use?
    We can’t just stomp our feet like little kids. We need to be reasonable adults and work on a pro-legalization add that doesn’t specifically “attack” one of the worlds biggest political leaders, and that’s exactly how 30-40% of the country would view that add. They wouldn’t even notice the NORML logo, they would just assume it’s an attack on Obama.
    [Paul Armentano responds: To clarify, the 15-second animated spot was the ad submitted to CBS. The Obama one-sheet was simply a mock-up, not anything that was submitted to CBS.]

  4. Honestly, that is a very poorly designed ad.
    NORML should hire some good graphic designers and advertising experts. In fact, I’d bet there are many smart art school / graphic design students who could do a much better job.
    [Editor’s note: Thanks for your opinion…the ad company that offered NORML the buy didn’t allow the organization more than 56 hours to design ads for submission, including 48 hours over a weekend. There was no time to solicit art school students for a contest.]

  5. this is a little off subject but i was just wondering why certain products, such as diet pills, etc. are not approved by the fda but are still legal, where marijuana, a substance put on the schedule I drug list a LONG time ago is illegal. i personally think these unapproved substances should be illegal for the simple fact that we dont necessarily know how safe they are in the long run. and of course i believe marijuana should be legal because of how safe it is to adults as a form of relaxation, etc. the list goes on and on, but see my point?

  6. I would like to add to my previous post. (151) CBS is a lame company. After the Janet Jackson thing at the Super Bowl they would not show Saving Private Ryan (which I and many people consider it a historical movie) because of the violence and language…… yeah, lets lie to our kids about war like we lie about marijuana. note kids shouldn’t be smoking but don’t give the Tobacco companies(they target children) control of marijuana because I don’t want the thousands of chemicals in it. and marketed to children. I wiling to bet tobacco wouldn’t cause the heath problems it does in its COMPLETE natural state.

  7. Back to the main point here.
    The fact is CBS denied services based on their preconceived notions about the NORML organization and the possibility of public backlash for providing those services. I think Mr. Stroup needs to file a discrimination lawsuit immediately.
    I understand that the odds of winning the lawsuit are slim but that is not the point. The government and court systems and big businesses everywhere have made a GAME out of CANNABIS laws. If NORML hopes to create some significant changes, we must PLAY THE GAME better than they do. That may be something we don’t want to hear but it is undeniable.
    Mr. Stroup, please go BEAT THEM AT THEIR OWN GAME!
    [Editor’s note: There is no discrimination lawsuit to be filed in a private advertising contract where the advertiser reserves the final say.]

  8. Until we boycott the advertisers on CBS, because they are on CBS we will not change their attitude. If cannabis sympathizers were to organize a boycott of say the top five advertisers on CBS those advertisers would reduce the money they spend. It could cost CBS millions and that is how you get someone’s attention.

  9. Oh… ok…. guess my television WON’T be turned on CBS any more. Not that it was frequently anyhow… but I had to tell hubby… “sorry, no more Price is Right”.

  10. First realize who gains by keeping Cannabis a schedule one narcotic… of course you must include law enforcement, the court system, the prison system but also the counciling centers that make lots and lots of money off the “clients” sentenced to classes the “client must pay for. (in some states this can cost thousands of dollars)…then you must factor in the drug cartels. Since the prohibition of cannabis includes commercial hemp you must add timber, paper, cotton, oil companies and of course pharmicutical co. Let me ask you: who has the most money to throw at prohibition, us or them?

  11. CBS denied this ad because it can harm the persona of the one in the ad. Don’t freak out that “BIG BUSINESS” made a big business decision and you are all reading it all out of context. This is bad for business and bad for the person (which could sue). Even if it is the president.

  12. …but yet CBS runs an anti-abortion ad with Tim Tebow’s ignorant ass, during the SUPER BOWL. Need I say more?

  13. I urge you all to leave feedback at CBS.com and voice your opinion. One voice may not mean much, but thousands and millions are where it makes a difference.

  14. we have to push and push i agree with todd and prob many more post we have to get annoying but sophisticated! have answers to throw in ther face come up with new arguments they are obviously not listening to death rates. this is our time we have to shine no one ever got anything without alot of trouble and hard times.so back to cbs lets go ahead and say there not on our side i’ve seen marijuana nation wich has its pros and cons. i noticed they interviewed some not so political people which they mean well just not making good points.we should protest under time square with your ads on post cant back down from the corporate way and way to rich mother F****** anymore. love you guys and everyone here!
    yall’s friend,
    fully melted 120

  15. For the love of god, sue. If corporations have the 1st Amendment right to produce smear movies about political candidates right before an election, then NORML has the 1st Amendment right to buy ad space that is regularly used for more “political” messages than theirs (and probably a Freevibe ad or two in its time)…

  16. And about the previous editor’s note… there didn’t use to be any freedom of speech cause of action for groups like Citizens United, either. I’m not saying you’ll get a court to rule in your favor on a first amendment claim, but as long as the court just handed down a highly controversial decision premised on the first amendment, you might as well expose their own hypocrisy.

  17. I gave up marijuana for the job. The union doesn’t support even medical marijuana liscenses. Now I go to work every day with a hangover. I certainly affects my productivity. My alcohol consumption? through the roof

  18. The only way to WIN the game is to JOIN the game. We need to become Cannibis incorporated.
    Didn’t I hear that weed was the second or third largest cash crop in America? Why are we not slapping the faces of our EMPLOYEES with a dick that big?
    Cannabusiness needs to organize itself into an evolving, ever growing political and business power base that no longer begs at the feet of the masters for those few morsels of freedom.
    We have legitimate businesses. Businesses need banks. Banks need even larger instruments,like mutual funds,etc. to grow their business.
    If we compete with the mainstream on a level playing field they will soon enough discover that they never had a chance of stopping us. That must be why it’s always so damn hard to get the field level.

  19. Your useless brother #95 william is exactly what the government wants. There are family members, for other reasons not shared here, that I’ve had to walk away from. They won’t listen to one ounce of reason concerning Prohibition. They’re losers too, so there’s only Limited contact with them.
    And as far as billboard time slots and commercials, have them prepared ahead of time. Run another contest NORML for talented people to donate their goods.
    A simple, and hopefully effective slogan would something to the tune of: We’ve all been lied to about cannabis, start asking why.

  20. I used to support NORML and “High Times”, now that High Times comes out with “Move on .org” as a legitimate political concern, and sees the Pro Life movement as controversial, I no longer can.

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