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New Yorkers: Protest #HighNYC Ad Ban in Times Square on 4/20

Protestors gather in Times Square, New York, New York to promote marijuana on 4/20

Joint Opinions

New Yorkers: Protest #HighNYC Ad Ban in Times Square on 4/20

Just when you thought that New York had returned to the forefront of progression in America, it takes a significant step backwards.

Earlier this month, Weedmaps, an online legal marijuana community regarded as the Yelp for marijuana strains and dispensaries had its tactful advertisement—which was expected to run for 60 days on the CBS jumbotron in Times Square—pulled at the 11th hour by CBS and its lawyers.

If you’re under the assumption that Weedmaps had produced a dishonorable scheme to cause controversy, you’d be wrong. Months of planning went into building the informative advertising campaign, which had already been approved by CBS and Neutron Media, the New York-based advertiser who had originally contacted the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML) for the ad placement.

Without the resources, NORML declined Neutron’s offer and that’s when Weedmaps saw a timely business opportunity that held a momentous social responsibility.

“We wanted to educate New Yorkers about the danger of marijuana prohibition and how badly these laws are affecting the state,” Justin Hartfield, CEO of Weedmaps and NORML board member said in a private interview. “We wanted to anticipate the legalization of marijuana coming in New York via a ballot initiative in 2016.”

The 8-second advertisement is still pending review and there doesn’t appear to be a straightforward reason as to why it was pulled to begin with. History tells us that advertisements and commercials have been pulled because they were too risqué or disrespectful. Sometimes this can be true, however, it always seems like there’s a group, a company, or an entity whose influence determines the course of action.

In July 2013, it was reported that a pro-marijuana ad would be pulled from NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but only after the Drug Free America Foundation had complained about the ad that read: “Marijuana: Less harmful than alcohol and time to treat it that way.”

Despite a spokeswoman’s ill-advised attempt to deflect blame, CBS has not reported any complaints from any outside parties that would have influenced their decision to pull the Weedmaps ad. Their conniving behavior regarding pro-marijuana campaigns has been well documented.

In March 2010, after a successful petition on, “the go-to site for uprisings” according to the New York Times, CBS reversed its stance on a Times Square billboard ad by NORML which called for the legalization of marijuana with a simple slogan: “Legalize Marijuana – Billions in Taxes.”

At the time, CBS stated that they didn’t accept advocacy ads, yet when it came time to run a controversial one for Focus on the Family, a global Christian ministry that only aids Christian families, they suddenly changed their policy. These hypocrites now claimed that they would now accept responsibly produced advocacy ads. How convenient.

All that tells me about CBS is they would rather push a traditionalist agenda that benefits the American conformist, rather than placing a thought-provoking message on display for millions of people to examine while determining their own stance on the topic. It’s a social injustice to censor a potentially dynamic force that can electrify a progressive movement which will benefit everyone financially, mentally, physically and spiritually.

What’s there to review? This is the question I ask myself when I try to dissect the Weedmaps advertisement from an objective standpoint. All I see are men in suits panicking, attempting to delay the inevitable in an egregious form of controlling Mother Nature through legalities and politics.

“It’s only a matter of time before the Federal prohibition is lifted,” said Hartfield, after he noted that Weedmaps will soon be in other cities and states.

The indefinite suspension on the Weedmaps ad has been a blessing in disguise, garnering attention via social media networks and web articles. It’s obvious now, more than ever, that any effort made to keep marijuana reforms in New York out of sight and, most notably, out of mind, is an exercise in futility.

I believe that an ideal way to circumvent the hold on the #HighNYC campaign, in a peaceful manner, would be to coordinate a smoke session in Times Square on April 20 with hundreds of New Yorkers. Imagine a sea of New York natives and tourists sitting around, stoned in Times Square, staring at the jumbotron that was meant to be running the Weedmaps ad. We’d all be sitting there with nothing to do, except to C-B-S.

Do you live in NYC? Will you support the #HighNYC campaign and plan on smoking out Times Square? Tell us in the comments below!

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