Here's the Medical Cannabis Super Bowl Ad CBS Refused to Run

Both CBS and the NFL lag far behind the American public on the subject of medical marijuana.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It was all over the news on Tuesday: CBS rejected a public service announcement highlighting the benefits of medical cannabis, which was intended to be aired during the 2019 Super Bowl.

Long story short, what happened was Acreage Holdings, one of the largest U.S. based cannabis companies, which counts former House Speaker John Boehner and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld among its advisors, created a 60-second public service announcement (or ad, if you will) featuring three medical cannabis patients and their loved ones explaining how marijuana had changed their lives for the better -- and suggesting it is a great alternative to other more dangerous pharma drugs.

The company submitted the ad to CBS and was ready to pay the estimated $5 million to $10 million it would cost to air during the 2019 Super Bowl.

Related: CBS Won't Air What Would Have Been the First-Ever Super Bowl PSA for Cannabis

Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering that cannabis remains illegal on the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, CBS rejected the ad. A network spokesperson told USA Today that, for the time being, pot-related ads did not fit CBS’ broadcast standards.

Interested in getting some athletes’ insights, Entrepreneur reached out to Treyous Jarrells, a former Colorado State running back who had to quit football so that he could continue to medicate with cannabis, and has since become a vocal cannabis advocate and entrepreneur. “I’m a huge activist when it comes to the cannabis space, but I see why CBS rejected this ad, being that it’s tied to the NFL… Knowing what we know about how cannabis is viewed when it comes to professional sports, especially football, it only makes sense that the ad was rejected; the NFL still views cannabis as a banned substance.”

Marvin Washington, former Super Bowl champion turned cannabis entrepreneur, investor and advocate with Athletes For Care, told Entrepreneur that “Acreage made a nice play for the industry and the future, and cannabis will be commercialized. Even in being denied, they showed the nation the future of cannabis. It will be mainstream.”

Harris Damashek, chief marketing officer for Acreage Holdings, said the decision was hypocritical. “You will see countless ads (during the Super Bowl) for beer and erectile dysfunction medications but our ad with an educational goal to help people who are suffering is rejected. That is the irony we are looking to highlight.’’

Related: Strange but True: Even Texas Is Getting Serious About Decriminalization and Medical Marijuana

The Footage

A lot can be said and discussed about this topic. And much has been discussed already. However, since Acreage Holdings did not release the footage, very few people have seen the ad but Green Entrepreneur has managed to get its hands on the material, exclusively.

The ad opens with Austin, a young man suffering a seizure caused by epilepsy. His mother, Amy Bourlon-Hilterban, from Florence, Colorado, explains that “Austin would have dozens to hundreds of seizures every single day,” and that prescription medications were not working.

Then, we see Greg Kazmierczak, who declares to have been hooked on opioids for 15 years, using them to treat his back pain, and Ryan Miller, a military veteran who also suffered from excruciating pain after losing a leg during the service.

All three of them had found a better treatment alternative in medical cannabis.

“Medical cannabis saved Austin’s life,” says Amy Bourlon-Hilterban, echoed by other patients and their family members. “It’s [cannabis prohibition] not just unfair. It’s cruel,” she ends, as the screen displays the following words:

The time is now.

Please call your U.S. Representative or U.S. Senator to advocate for change now.

And finally, for the moment everyone has been waiting for, the cannabis-themed public service announcement Acreage Holdings wanted to run during this year’s Super Bowl -- but couldn’t.

Javier Hasse

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Javier Hasse is a cannabis, hemp, CBD and psychedelics-focused reporter, currently serving as Managing Director for Benzinga Cannabis, and CEO of Spanish language news site El Planteo, a company he co-founded.

El Planteo is an online media outlet focused on cannabis, hemp, psychedelics, ecology and other green topics, with a frequent financial and cultural angle. On you will find all the key news regarding the cannabis industry in Latin America and the world, the advances in legalization policies and the cultural events that make up the world of marijuana and other emerging industries.

His book, “Start Your Own Cannabis Business,” was published by Entrepreneur Media in 2018 and hit the #1 Best-Seller spot on Amazon.

As an award-winning reporter and editor, Javier's had roughly 5,000 unique articles published across numerous mass media outlets including CNN, Forbes, MSN, Chicago Tribune, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, Entrepreneur Magazine, MarketWatch, Houston Chronicle, The Street, Nasdaq, Morningstar, Playboy, Benzinga, MERRY JANE, High Times, and many others.

Beyond cannabis, Javier is a published photographer and Billboard-charting rapper, featured on hip-hop albums that also included Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and Inspectah Deck, Twista, Lil Windex, Riff Raff, Cyhi The Prynce, Yung Bleu, DJ Whoo Kid, Jonathan Hay, and others.