Times Square Billboard From NORML Denied By CBS

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director February 5, 2010

    With great regret and chagrin to report, CBS has rejected a contract deal with NORML to place a pro-cannabis law reform advertisement on the biggest electronic billboard in Times Square (The CBS ‘Super Screen’ at 42nd St) claiming that the advertisement is too political. NORML had a contract for the 15 second spot below on the giant billboard (and a second one featuring President Obama and New York City’s high cannabis arrest rate with its shocking racial disparity in enforcement).

    High Times breaks the story tonight here.

    This of course makes no sense to have CBS reject a non-profit organization like NORML’s pro-cannabis law reform advertisement, when, during the Super Bowl on Sunday–the most watched TV event annually in the United States–CBS is scheduled to air a controversial anti-abortion television advertisement produced by the socially conservative non-profit group Focus on the Family (who, like apparently CBS, is anti-cannabis). Last year, CBS rejected an advertisement from the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org claiming it was too political as well.


    The hypocrisy and double standard here is appalling. NORML and MoveOn.org ads are deemed ‘political’ and can’t be purchased and broadcast by CBS, but Focus on the Family can roll a political hand grenade in the form of an anti-abortion TV ad into American households on no less than Super Bowl Sunday for the full and desired effect of creating public discussion.


    Worse, beyond the fact that CBS censors political speech, the company has no apparent problems making money off the general public’s strong interest in ‘marijuana’ as the network has established Marijuana Nation, an eye-ball sucking, archive-rich, comprehensive and well done webpage relating to cannabis found on the Internet (Ironically, CBS’ site competes with NORML and High Times’ general content for readers…).

    There are numerous reasons why cannabis prohibition has lasted over 72-years, and when huge, mainstream media outlets (who control bill boards, radio and TV, etc…) pick and choose what organization’s free speech they support and those they don’t–recognizing that absent a vibrant and informed public discussion about needed public policy changes, like ending cannabis prohibition, those needed public policy changes take so much longer than they would organically absent the filter of mainstream, corporate-leaning mega media outlets.

    Personally, I can only wonder what public discourse, with now even more corporate influence, is going to look like in America post the SCOTUS decision two weeks ago in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.

    176 responses to “Times Square Billboard From NORML Denied By CBS”

    1. CannabisTV says:

      I would call for a boycott, but CBS sucks so much already that I never watch.

    2. Alex says:

      CBS = Corporate Bullshit Station

    3. todd bass says:

      Our country is almost over lol america i never really new ya. WE HAVE A SHORT TIME TO LEGALIZE WEED!!!!!
      do what you can do make it happen be rediculous about much you talk about it with other people. when you find out that somebody doesn’t like it or is ignorant have well planned arguments for any of the main reasons people use to make your point clear and prove them wrong. Lets get hard core now. we can do it be annoying , ive changed my whole familys opinion and many others that i have talked with. the new world is upon us wake up do something like get high

    4. White RYNO says:

      I wonder how many beer ads on tv will be played during the SuperBowl? Funny how the media supports ads for an addictive/abusive substance.

    5. Bob Doyle says:

      No, don’t worry. They’ll allow commercials from the alcohol companies that glamorize liquor, but anything that is pro-cannabis !!!! forget about it.
      I love how these prohibitionist compare cannabis to tobacco…
      They say, “oh, it has the same carcinogens that are in tobacco.” Well Sir, tobacco kills 400 thousand people every year, where are the deaths from cannabis???
      Or they say that the costs to society will far outweigh any benefit from taxation and regulation. Yet, there are no deaths from cannabis? Give me one name, or one person that is dying in a damn hospital because of “cannabis”. But you can go to any hospital and you can easily find numerous people that are dying directly because of alcohol, tobacco, and the big pharma opiate pills.

    6. Paul Revere says:

      I’d say I would boycott CBS programing in retaliation, but CBS already has jack squat worth watching. Honestly, not one show and I cant say I was looking forward to the Super Bowl either.

      For Christ sake, even Fox News has pro MJ programing in the Judge Napalitano show.

      The Price is Wrong!

    7. Cindy Lou Who says:

      I suggest posting a complaint to CBS that they would run a highly controversial and political anti-abortion ad, but yet not allow NOML to run an ad on the CBS Super Screen. You can utilioze the Contact/Complaint dropdown on the CBS Web site. I’ve alteady sent MY complaint to them!

    8. Pedro says:

      Forget NYC. I say next year, NORML & MPP & High Times all start like a co-fundraiser to raise money for a Super Bowl Ad… THAT would make an impact.

    9. A. E. Burdge says:

      Did you ever think cannabis would be in direct competition with BEER COMMERICIALS and maybe the
      beer industries have pulled some strings to do everything in their power to make sure that these ads don’t hit the air waves in anyway or form .
      If cannabis were legal it would be in direct competition with the liquor industries.
      IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

      KEEP UP THE FIGHT!!!!!!

    10. Anonymous says:

      Write your views to CBS, and boycott. looks like im going to have to watch the Superbowl on ESPN.