Are Americans Ready for Marijuana Advertising?

NEW YORK: Whether one’s attitudes about marijuana cleave closer to Nancy Reagan or Cheech and Chong, there’s no denying that the drug’s bad reputation is slowly burning off. Consider: Seventeen states have decriminalized pot, 18 now allow its consumption for medical reasons, and two (Colorado and Washington state) have conferred upon their citizens the freedom to toke up for any old reason they please. If the history of free enterprise is any guide, it’s pretty easy to guess where things go from here. Legal pot will become branded pot, and branded pot will be advertised pot.

Or will it? According to the results of a study released today by The Partnership at Drugfree.org, while most Americans seem willing to accept legalized marijuana under specific circumstances, they are nearly united in opposing its marketing. “People are not in love with advertising in general, but with marijuana you get a double whammy,” said Steve Pasierb, the Partnership’s president and CEO. “We asked [our sample group], ‘In what way would you be in favor of marijuana being advertised?’ And the answer was no way.”

He’s not exaggerating. Of the 1,603 American adults surveyed (1,200 of whom were parents of young children), a sizeable 80 percent of them declared that, even if pot is made legal where they live, advertising it should not be. This consensus held up despite generally permissive feelings toward pot. Seventy percent of respondents supported legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, and 43 percent admitted to having smoked it themselves. But when asked to name the place where marijuana advertising would be most appropriate, the No. 1 response was “nowhere.”

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