Pot-Related Speech Still Being Muzzled

Even though polls show that most Americans support the legalization of marijuana, corporate America continues to censor pot-related speech. Legal reformers are banned from issue-advocacy advertising; major websites such as Google, Facebook, and Yahoo prohibit the listing of legal marijuana businesses; and normal folks face even tougher reprisals for speaking out at work, at school, or in the community.

Justin Hartfield, founder of the nation’s leading marijuana locator site WeedMaps.com, is doing interviews this week telling people how lawyers for CBS Outdoor pulled his Times Square ad from rotation after the billboard company took his $50,000 and told him the ad launched on April 1. “It was surprising, but not shocking, just because this has totally happened to us in the past,” Hartfield told me.

WeedMaps’ 26-by-20-foot electronic billboard would have been the Big Apple’s first mainstream weed ad. Designed to increase awareness of reform and mobilize the community, the ten-second spot was approved to run on the CBS Super Screen on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues, 18 hours a day for 61 days.

It was to read: “High, NYC” and was to feature a link to WeedMaps’ New York City marijuana resource site (WeedMaps.com/nyc). The website itself details the obvious: New York City’s illegal, but highly evolved weed scene; the state of the failed law; ways to contact politicians; plus a stoner’s guide to the Big Apple.

Because CBS is a private business, it can reject ads from whomever it wants, but the fact that WeedMaps cannot state the obvious to New Yorkers speaks volumes about the state of denial in this country. “More people get high in New York City than any other city,” WeedMaps.com/nyc states. “It’s just more difficult for New Yorkers to be open about it.”

WeedMaps submitted its ad proposal in late January and received multiple levels of approval by Toronto-based Neutron Media, which sells CBS Outdoor’s billboard spaces, Hartfield said. In fact, Neutron Media had first approached officials at National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and offered them the billboard — but they couldn’t afford it, so officials from NORML called the folks at WeedMaps.

– Read the entire article at East Bay Express.