Times Square is lighting up. A pro-marijuana legalization advertisement targeting New York’s adult crowd debuted in the infamous tourist attraction early Tuesday morning, the Daily News first reported.
Displayed on the CBS Super Screen billboard at 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues — the heart of Times Square — the ad was purchased by Weedmaps, a medical marijuana review site where patients can post their accounts of anything from local dispensaries to doctors. It features a 10-second looping video that displays the words “HIGH, NYC” on a light green background before revealing the name of the company which then vanishes into a cloud of smoke to show the site’s URL and a hashtag — #HighNYC.
“So many people support marijuana legalization,” Aaron Houston, Weedmaps’ policy adviser, told the Daily News. “We’re trying to do it in a really professional, highbrow manner. It’s not just stoners. It’s professional people, too. This is about liberty.”
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) was scheduled to run a 15-second pro-legalization ad in 2010, but the CBS Corporation abruptly reversed its approval of the spot soon before it was supposed to go up on the the company’s Super Screen billboard. After a Change.org petition garnered nearly 10,000 signatures, however, CBS went back on this decision. NORML ran a second ad in Times Square later that year.
Inquiries about Weedmaps and legalization efforts from New York City residents have increased since adoption of pro-legalization legislation has been on the rise in the United States, according to a Weedmaps spokesperson. CBS originally approached NORML about the current ad, but since a price in the low five figures wasn’t in the organization’s budget the opportunity got passed on to Weedmaps, the spokesperson said. In an ironic twist, the spot is running on the same billboard CBS initially refused to run NORML’s ad four years ago.
“A lot of change really needs to happen and this is another flash point in the evolving discussion,” NORML spokesperson Erik Altieri told Mashable, referring to the Weedmaps ad.
Weedmaps has increased in popularity since it launched in 2008. It has seen a 30% growth year over year and had 2.7 million visitors just last month. Its Time Square ad will run 18 hours a day for the next two months.
Colorado and Washington made waves in November 2012 when state residents voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana. The Compassionate Care Act, which could legalize medical marijuana in New York, has been passed by the state’s assembly four times, but still hasn’t been brought to a vote by the state Senate, the Huffington Post reports. And it isn’t for lack of support from locals — nearly 90% of adult New Yorkers support the legal use of medical marijuana, according to a poll done last month by Quinnipiac University.
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