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. Just a short time ago I made a personal reformation, and that was to never drink alcohol again until I had a choice of what recreational substance* I chose to consume. I don’t care if it takes 25 years. As we’re all well aware, the financial grip the conservative (beer pounding) hypocritical corps won’t yield control to the public.
    It’s up to the public to make a stand, NORML is here to guide us and inform us. It has to come from individual citizens. And the way to make change is to inform others besides the already true freedom . Talk to others about cannabis prohibition – convince them of the cannabis cause. Every repeated talking point ever devised is our arsenal.
    This isn’t news to anyone here of course. Just a bit of a rant….
    I am going to begin voicing my position on cannabis in a multitude of ways. Fortunately (and unfortunately) I’m up in Canada. However, our NORML group does not seem to be quite as politically active as the US’s.
    I would also like to agree with a couple of posters in this thread that the billboard, although a strong clear message present – was just TOO hard and clean for a country full of religious, traditional conservatives. I would suggest a billboard with a clear message but take the Obama aspect out of it. I saw everywhere he said “Of course I inhaled, that was the point.”; it seems just too interjectional in our efforts of reform.
    Perhaps a slogan such as “IS IT REALLY A DRUG IF IT GROWS NATURALLY?”. I would suggest a message of taking the ‘DRUG’ connotation out of the picture and adapting a composure of medicinal, natural and non-harmful.
    I’m not fully aware of all the campaigning that has been done since (37?), but make alcohol, tobacco and harmful substances out to be what they truly are. I’m just talking outloud, as I am aware this is and has been occurring since initial prohibition.
    This is actually my first comment on this site, having been just a lurker for a long time. But it feels good to increase my involvement! And have enjoyed reading the many supportive and positive comments from other readers. I would also like to commend the NORML staff for their efforts and give props for just the simple fact they respond to the variety of challenging and helpful notes people leave after each article!
    Remain informative and respectful!

  2. Thats it! CBS sucks, I will sure boycott CBS for not letting our freedoms be heard. Only the freedome they want heard are heard. NO MAS CBS!!!!

  3. Edit a bowl they say its a hush , an money grows on trees you ask how to be seen but not on the front banner of the super bowl game,so where maybe its
    another part thats not bieng taxed an its not the reform it news comments that get the hush depending
    on how its aired “they to air is to be human”but to
    edit a bowl during the game isnt how you want to be
    pulled from those box seats,snack be up front with
    those an if its not air play then keep the ball in bounds!

  4. I’m impressed at the number of comments. Apparently, this item has made a great impact, enough to inspire lots of people to speak up.
    But, I believe many readers have missed the real story here. I agree with the comment stating this country is run by money, and believe that is the heart of what’s happened here.
    While beer ads are popular for the Super Bowl, we should remember these ads, while certainly representing significant income for CBS during this one event, aren’t necessarily the bread and butter for the network over the rest of the year.
    I’m pretty sure the largest purchasers of ad time on CBS (and all of commercial TV, for that matter) are made by the single most powerful opponent to cannabis law reform: Big Pharma.
    The networks might give some thought to which ads might offend some viewers, but it certainly makes more sense they would be more worried about offending their biggest advertisers. After all, viewers don’t pay for network TV. Advertisers do.
    Big Pharma not only holds the puppet strings of TV, but control our nation’s lawmakers as well. Their lobbyists are infinitly more powerful (think $$) than organizations such as NORML, MPP, ASA, LEAP, and other pro-cannabis groups can ever hope to be.
    We know the truth about cannabis. Our government knows the truth about cannabis and, more importantly, Big Pharma knows the truth about cannabis.
    They know cannabis represents a genuine threat to their bottom lines, and will continue to use their money and power to influence Washington as strongly as they influence mainstream media.
    The numerous polls prove how most of America feels about cannabis laws, but they don’t mean a thing in the grand scheme of things. After all, the Supreme Court has informed us what’s most important in America.
    As my granddaughter would say, “Corporations rule, citizens drool!”
    And, while it may make us feel we are making a statement by boycotting CBS, the only viewers that really matter are the ones monitored by the folks at Nielsen’s and other ratings organizations.

  5. I just made a facebook group named “Boycott CBS Until they allow NORML ad at Times Square” Please join and get your friends to do the same. I assume most of you will still watch the Super Bowl and I can not ask people to refuse to watch that. But beyond the Super Bowl, CBS must be boycotted. They care about money, well we can take that money away.

  6. I am boycotting the Superbowl and letting CBS know what I am doing. I will tell Bob Shieffer since I think he would listen. KInd of strange – I think CBS owns Showtime which produces “Weeds” – why won’t they advetise for NORML?

  7. I think we need a commercial that starts with a long list of the benefits of Cannabis/Hemp, from medical to industrial. Then say “What if one simple plant can could do all that”?.The plant is CANNABIS.GET IT LEGAL!

  8. It is ALL about $$$$$$$. Big corporations have had us by the balls for some time now, EVERY aspect of our lives is, in one way or another, controlled and manipulated by them. Take a look at the movie “Hemp Revolution” on NetFlix. Hemp. America’s biggest cash crop. What happened to it? And I am not talking about smokin it. I am just talking about hemp for paper pulp, oil from the seeds, etc. IT WAS A HUGE CASH CROP here in america. The entire industry was completely squashed by the oil and wood pulp folks, thank you very much.
    For the People???

  9. What is funny is that Viacom owned CBS and Showtime (owned by Viacom) was airing a little show called “Weeds” on it, one of their best rated shows. CBS is only worried about their stock price which, like their programming and ratings, has been in the toilet for years now.

  10. To editor’s reply to post 90: Citizens United wasn’t about donating to political candidates directly; it was about corporations and unions using their general treasury funds to independently fund “electioneering communication” or speech that advocates the election or defeat of a candidate within 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election. However, corporations and unions were allowed to establish a political action committee for express advocacy or electioneering communications purposes.
    Though drug policy reform advocates such as NORML were always able to broadcast their message, even they would’ve been prevented from funding advertisements which endorsed or attacked a particular candidate near an election. The “Obama would’ve been a criminal in NYC” ad is probably borderline, and an ad which expressly opposes an anti-reform candidate could’ve landed you in hot water. Remember, both NORML and Citizens United are 501(c)(4) non-profit corporations; the same laws that restrict CU’s free speech can also be used to restrict NORML’s free speech.
    Does the following make sense to you?—“ Extending (NORML)–which can not feel, die, breathe, eat, sleep, experience joy, love, think, sweat, cry–human status with rights and privileges under the Constitution, to spend unlimited amount of corporate resources directly into political campaigns is both bizarre and wrong. It’s not as if (NORML) pre-Citizen’s United didn’t already have myriad ways to influence the outcome of elections with their access to tens of millions in cash.” Do you really want to shoot yourself in the foot?
    If you value free speech and are concerned about corporations outspending citizen-activists, then you should be happy with the ruling. Regulations almost always have unintended consequences that favor those with money and power. In this case, if the ruling went the other way there would still be nothing preventing drug testing companies, private prison corporations, etc. from establishing a political action committee and funding all of the pro-drug-warrior campaign ads they wanted to. Corporations with more resources at their disposal are in a better position to get around the law. Smaller corporations, like NORML for instance, don’t have that luxury and are -more- limited in what they can say.

  11. There needs to be a law suit. This is basically a chilling effect and it should be addressed. The law suit itself would bring a lot of attention to the issues and would pay for itself in media coverage.

  12. Will someone from any of our pro-cannabis organizations please use your silver tounges and contact Frito-Lay or any subsidiaries and convince them their profit would increase due to legalized marijuana. Fight fire with fire; use the corporations that can help this cause.

  13. Yeah, big alcohol, big tobacco, and the big pharmaceuticals are funding the war on drugs. Even though I believe its more a war on marijuana, as way more people smoke pot than do heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines combined. They will never let marijuana become legal, and if the pharmaceutical industry has its way, not even legal for medical use in the majority of states. Because they are making way too much money from people buying anti-emetics (nausia medicine), opiates, glaucoma medicines, anti-anxiety meds, sleep aids, and others.
    I wonder if NBC owned times square, if they would let you put it up? Since they seem to be more liberal. Eh, probably not.

  14. You are voting every time that bar code gets scanned when ever you make a purchase.
    Look up the LGBT list for harmful companies, VANS skateboard shoes is even on there.

  15. Quite frankly, if I’m one of the big-wigs at CBS, I’ll take whatever ad revenue I can get! They’re dead last in the ratings game, so why are they playing the “pick & choose” game with their advertisers?
    Allen, if there was a contract between NORML and CBS to broadcast the ad in Times Square, what is the cost of GETTING OUT of the contract?
    Maybe that money could be used elsewhere to further the cause of ending prohibition and helping to fix our country & economy. Perhaps the Tea Party contingent would provide support. . .or better yet; maybe we could create OUR OWN TEA PARTY: THE NORML TEA PARTY!

  16. Abortion, wow another wedge issue. What’s next gay marriage or how about gun rights.
    Pro life, so that we can have more Soldiers to fight our oil wars. Really, People if you still fall for that wedge issue crap, you’re not ignorant you’re stupid.
    There’s only one issue that matters people, it’s our wallets, not gays, guns or abortion or god.
    Wedge issues were created by the wealthy to get your mind off of your wallets so they can steal you blind.
    I voted Democrat, I am a U.S. Marine, I don’t care what the gays do because I’m not a homophobe and I don’t go to church because religion is man made. besides, I’m smart enough to know how to read a book without having some lazy idiot with a collection plate tell me what it all means. I have a closet full of assault rifles and you’ll take’em bullets first !
    And while all of you simpletons are watching a bunch of men in tight pants play with balls, My woman and I will be breaking some bedroom furniture.
    Oh yea, FUCK YOU CBS !!!

  17. I got a plan how about everyone that is for this movement to not watch the game only enough to see the score then turn it, when there view #s go down they will see were not f**kin around.#98 im with u on that i as well am going to live a free man or will also die tryin

  18. Too many good people have had their lives ruined for their choice of relaxation.
    End the insanity and
    LEGALIZE IT!

  19. I totally agree that the move is bullshit. Abortion has been one of the front issues for years, their commercial on the Superbowl isnt new news, its just political. CBS shouldve run NORML’s ad, because legalization would most definitely affect the economy, abortion wont.
    But you have to look at it from the point of CBS: Since they are already running the anti-abortion ad, which is very heavy politically, a move to run another heavy politically ad, legalization, probably looked too risky for their bottom line. As all of us have seen, its always about the bottom line:money. Not the issues, or things that are important, but money. Those CBS Bastards.

  20. wow, this information really blows my mind… thanks a lot ladies and gentlemen for all of the GREAT INFO!
    PS. boycott the superbowl if you LOVE FREEDOM!

  21. Just read ALL of the comments above, and the thing that is missing is this:
    NORML and other pro-pot groups should simply buy out a billboard company. Then they could advertise all they wanted and no one could tell them what they could display and what they couldn’t.
    Just a thought.

  22. If you haven’t noticed, abortions are actually needed in this country. There are WAAAY too many people in this country that can’t take care of themselves, let a lone their children! Stop the welfare cycle teen parenting crap! And no, it’s not “murder” as long as you do it early enough

  23. #116
    That is what I was saying way back in post #53.
    This sounds like the definition of discrimination and a lawsuit should be filed.
    discrimination
    treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.

  24. Long time reader, really enjoy the information shared here.
    It really bugs me that the major networks and organizations that could push marijuana reform to the tipping point run away from the issue. They spike their ratings by running some poorly done look at marijuana culture, end the program by demonizing it, and then proceed to block any sort of real knowledge.
    One note though: hypocrisy not hypocracy. Not to be a total nut, but I feel like this article is too important to let those slide.
    Thanks for the great work!

  25. keep on fighting everyone. we are closer than we have been since it wasn’t illegal (1937). i also am going to quit drinking alcohol until cannabis is legalized, even though i only drink a few times a year. thanks for the idea from prior post., i honestly cant beleive the government because they wont legalize it. everyone should read#98 because that person is onto something. i believe obama will legalize it in his 2nd term, right now there is way too much going on for him too. lets just hope he gets a 2nd term.

  26. Thanks Russ you really made my day.I am going to stick to my guns on this one,Like many of the anti-drug advertisements of the 80s and 90s my brothers comments were rude and uncalled for.I wannt to help Norml let’s stick together pepole go to work And clean up the mess the prohibitions have made in America.

  27. Honestly whether or not marijuana is legalized or not people are still going to smoke it. Why not profit from it? why not turn the money that we get from selling it and turn it into the community? reading up above i look at a passage someone wrote how tobacco, alcohol, pharmacy opiates cause death when no one can prove that weed has actually killed anyone. how could marijuana be worse then those if it (be it still intoxicating, and still impairs judgment) is not as bad as those and they are still legal. in one way i’m happy marijuana not taxed, but it feels like if the government allows things that have worse side effects to be legal, why cant marijuana be legal? pills alcohol they can be taken with restrictions like (do not drive under influence)if any law is to be placed it should be that if you smoke marijuana then you should take the same precautions and be safe. everyone smokes it. would you not give anyone the right to choose how to run they’re life? or are we all doomed to live in the shadows forever over something so harmless.

  28. agreed-
    This sounds like the definition of discrimination and a lawsuit should be filed.
    discrimination
    treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.

  29. Yooooo I got great news im on peerblock and i seen cbs pop up so i enabled it their probabll gonna see my post and shit fucoes this.

  30. Yooooo I got great news im on peerblock and i seen cbs pop up so i enabled it their probablly gonna see my post and watching other sites talking about them..
    peerblock blocks people/computers/companies from entering our comps.
    my last post was a big typo sorry.

  31. #134 Joeblaze wrote: “i believe obama will legalize it in his 2nd term, right now there is way too much going on for him too. ”
    Dude, his budget proposal for 2011 includes a 5.4% increase in funding drug enforcement. It doubles what he wants to spend on prevention and treatment. Is that the actions of a president who is going to all of a sudden turn around and legalize it his second term? You think a president who would legalize it, who is going through the budget line by line to desperately make cuts anywhere to decrease our deficit, maybe would decrease funding for the failed drug war? Heck, maybe not decrease, maybe just freeze it. So let’s get this straight… he laughed at the idea of legalization, so he flat out told us he is not behind us. He increases the budget for drug enforcement, so his actions are lining right up with his words.. and you still think he is going to legalize it his 2nd term?

  32. This is when things really get bad. We had the senate for a while now and couldnt accomplish anything. We had a pot smoker get elected and still, no dice. We are all property, owned by people who will tell us what we can and cant have as long as they can profit either way or in MJ case…both. Face it, the states will drop the ball, the medical weed will leak into other states and the fed will shut it all down again and say “oh see we tried but the states couldnt regulate it!”. And what will americans do? the usual…nothing piss and moan online and talk to people who already agree with them and not actually accomplish anything

  33. Also in addition, the whole billboard thing is absolutely no surprise. Look up clearchannel communications and then look up the other 6-7 corporations that really control the country. These empty suits and token politicians are just there for the population to demonize while the special interests run off with all the money. They take care of the talking heads after their terms are up for doing their jobs as human property of the corporations. Lobbyists are out there handing over legal bribes by the thousands every day, we the voters stand absolutely no chance in hell of changing a single thing. obama proved that by wasting half a term doing nothing but talking about polar bears and hope…now he lost the majority and everything gets worse as if we thought it could. Sit back and enjoy folks, we’ll be in Iran befre u know it getting shot for protesting against our owners.

  34. People are stupid, its all a corporate scam to strip us of our constitutional rights via money. In the day where anyone could print a news paper we had free speech. Now we have all this communication media that is so regulated that it isn’t funny. If the government didn’t step in, a powerful corporation probably will. By having all the money these people control so much of our government. They have our political balls in a big solid gold corporate vice.
    Of course CBS is going to let a right wing campaign ad against abortion air on superbowl sunday, they are a corporate company. Democrat = People, Republican = Corporation (at least for the most part). Democrat, Democracy; Democrat, Democracy: am I the only one who sees the link? Democracy, what our country was founded on, has been dead for so long. We need to bring it back. Were it my choice I’d say full scale revolution and burn every corporate headquarters and government building to the ground, but thats why we don’t leave the choice to a manic-depressive without his pills.
    I think we just need to keep fighting. When the time comes to act, we will all know and raise our banners high (almost as high as we are) in the name of Democracy.

  35. As some one who builds homes for families, commercial buildings for jobs, and maybe someday schools for education, if cannabis were LEGAL, I would invest in HEMP composite building materials and create the ultimate homes of a sustainable future. 2×4’s, plywood, gypsum, and many other materials involved in the construction process can be supplemented with hemp based materials similar to what William Henry Ford was doing before Petro-Oil infiltrated our government to bring us before our knees before Big Corp and Pharma as we are today.
    *The R value of concrete can be raised using hemp fiber as an insulator either mixed in at the proper ratio or to replace other types of insulation. The U value of the building becomes lower and more stable saving energy costs.
    … now, apply a few solar panels, a little solar heat, and a solar water heater and your saving the planet!
    The perils of man are the greeds that keep us from progressing.

  36. CBS sucks. Now on to more important things…Nobama doesn’t deserve a second term if he doesn’t abolish the federal ban on the one thing that could’ve saved his mother’s life, a thing he enjoyed in his own youth, and admittedly “inhaled, frequently” then stuttered like Porky Pig. Th-th-th- that was the point.
    What’s my point? Put the fire under his ass. Let him know that we will not support him for 2012’s presidential auction. More than half of this great nation’s fine people of voting age support the full legalization of medical cannabis for ailing individuals, and their right to discuss this with their physicians without either party fearing retribution from Big Brother.
    Now there’s a Times Square ad worthy of promotion. “President Obama, honor your pledges while campaigning for the high office you hold. You hold it at our pleasure. You can and will be voted out of office if you don’t end this ‘utter failure’ war on Americans who make the sensible, safer choice of recreational and medicinal product.”
    PS: Thanks for doing the right thing and signing DC’s medical marijuana bill into law. Now follow up, and come ON, get rid of that Ubercunt at DEA.
    End rant. ;-}

  37. everyone quit buying alcohol and cigs. that would help. any other real ideas to get their attention.

  38. CBS is a joke, not to air medical cannabis,every one knows about it. Yet they still want to keep it a secert. If we don’t advertise it they won’t ask for it.Well, we want medical cannabis and we do not care what this goverment want! Some where, there is a place or person that will air that ad.

  39. CBS = Censorship Blatantly Shows
    I boycotted the Superbowl and will continue o not watch CBS until they play fairly. Not that there’s anything worth watching on CBS anyhow. I’ve boycotted other companies for up to 20 years now… I certainly will have no problem with not watching CBS. This is America and we are tired of being bullied!

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