Tuesday, 12 August 2014 | MYT 8:00 AM

Pro-pot and anti-weed rivals spark up debate in big media joint

The New York Times may support high times, but that doesn't mean it won't take adverts from opponents of medical marijuana. 

Supporters and opponents of a federal ban on marijuana took to the pages of The New York Times last weekend with full-page colour advertisements that highlight the fast-evolving debate in the US about medical and recreational drug use. 

The advertisements followed The New York Times’ decision last month in a series of editorials to call for repealing the ban, the biggest US newspaper to do so. Opinion polls show a majority of Americans now back the legalisation of pot.

The ads are also designed to undercut pot’s decades-old association with the counter-culture and drop-outs by featuring people dressed in everyday working attire. In an ad in Sunday’s edition of the paper, Seattle-based Privateer Holdings features its medical marijuana website, which helps users to find pot dispensaries and to choose strains.

The ad depicts a woman jogger in Spandex gliding past a brownstone building as a crisply dressed professional man stands atop its steps with a bundle of papers under his arm. “Ian chose an indica cannabis strain to relieve his MS symptoms,” a bubble next to him says. “While fighting cancer, Molly preferred a sativa cannabis,” says the bubble next to the jogger.

Explaining the decision to use ordinary working people in the ad, Privateer Holdings’ chief executive, Brendan Kennedy, said: “This product and this industry are still depicted as sub-culture or counter-culture. That’s just not the reality.”

A poster from the Leafly advertisement that ran as a full-page advertisement in the August 3, 2014 edition of The New York Times. – REUTERS/Leafly

Last month, New York became the 23rd state to allow medical marijuana. In 2012, Colorado and Washington state became the first in the nation to approve state-sanctioned recreational marijuana for consumers aged 21 and older.

However, Saturday’s edition of The New York Times carried an ad from a group opposed to pot legalisation, Smart Approaches To Marijuana, and allied organisations. It featured a suit-and-tie-clad executive leaning over a conference-room table with a photo of a grinning, bandana-wearing hippy superimposed over his face. The word “Perception” is next to his flowing hair. The suit has the word “Reality.”

“The legalisation of marijuana means ushering in an entirely new group of corporations whose primary source of revenue is a highly habit-forming product,” the advertisement says.

A poster from the Smart Approaches To Marijuana advertisement which appeared as a full-page advertisement in the August 2, 2014 issue of The New York Times. – REUTERS/Smart Approaches To Marijuana

Tags / Keywords: New York Times , NY Times , medical drug use , repealing marijuana ban , legalisation of pot , medical marijuana


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