There's really no such thing as “business as usual” for a cannabis dispensary. Basic functions like banking and doing taxes are onerous challenges for sellers of legal weed thanks, to federal government restrictions.
It's also this way with advertising. Major ad players Facebook and Google still ban cannabis ads, and dispensaries are still wary about paying for placement on television and in print after the U.S. Justice Department threatened to throw advertisers in jail a few years ago.
But this is changing. On local favorite KOFY-24 in San Francisco, you can see an ad for Excelsior District dispensary The Green Cross. This makes the ad one of the first of its kind in the country, and definitely a first for San Francisco.
[jump] While there are plenty of ads out there for ancillary businesses like doctors' clinics, putting ads for cannabis-selling businesses out there is is still uncharted territory for the California and American marijuana industries. Last year, a company called MarijuanaDoctors.com earned headlines for what it advertised as the first cannabis-related ad on major network television. Problem was, the ad never aired (though the widespread coverage of the non-ad did).
Here's one of the Green Cross spots, which began airing around Thanksgiving on KOFY (best known for its Sunday morning dance parties).
Notice what you don't see: cannabis, in any of its forms (though you can see Marina District resident Michelle Aldrich, winner of a High Times award for her four decades of activism, who claims that cannabis oil helped her recover from Stage III lung cancer).
There's also a Spanish language version. As far as we know, there's never been a cannabis ad on Spanish
language broadcast media in the city.
Kevin Reed, founder and president of The Green Cross, says that the ads' sober tones are deliberate.
“Our goal in creating these commercials and doing this TV campaign was not to push the envelope, but rather to send a public message that we are a community asset,” he said via e-mail. “We are always looking for ways to break down walls and educate our local community on the benefits of medical cannabis, and show them what professional and responsible community-minded MCDs look like. We really wanted to remove the negative stigma around medical cannabis and dispensaries in general, and hopefully change some opinions out there.”