Can pot ads save newspapers?

The upside to passage of Prop. 19, at least to the print media, would be a slew of new pot ads.

The timing is right because the ongoing recession has slammed newspapers, TV and magazines.

The jury is out on whether the media accept the ads or not because pot is still illegal unless you have a medical marijuana ID.

KCRA-TV does not air medicinal marijuana ads, nor does the Sacramento Bee or Sacramento Magazine. Facebook bans pot leaves it its ads, including ones from the pro-Prop. 19 “Just Say Now” campaign.

Conde Nast also has declined to run ads supporting passage of Prop. 19 because it “does not want to financially benefit from this issue.”

KCRA also does not run ads for hard liquor, and it doesn’t run ads for cigarettes or escort service-type businesses.

“Attitudes about smoking marijuana have changed, but I am against its legalization,” wrote Mike O’Brien, publisher of Sacramento magazine. “As we considered what to do about accepting cannabis ads, we spoke to medicinal marijuana dispensers, lawyers, readers and advertisers, and decided not to accept the advertising.”

O’Brien told KCRA: “Dollars are always appealing, but you know, each medium has to determine their audience and ways to serve that audience — that’s our current decision.”

The Carson City-based Swift Newspapers — including The Union and Sierra Sun — have been running marijuana ads, however. I’ve never seen an explanation to readers, as O’Brien provided, the “right thing to do” journalistically.

Next week Sacramento’s FOX affiliate KTXL “Fox 40” will air what is thought to be the first time an ad for marijuana has ever aired on mainstream television. To its credit, the TV station aired and wrote a story.

The upside can be significant for media outlets: About 15 percent of the Sacramento News & Review’s ads are for medical marijuana dispensaries, its chief executive told KCRA news.

Some outlets such as social news site Reddit are running pro-pot legalization ads for free.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

10 thoughts on “Can pot ads save newspapers?”

  1. ??? Pot ads save Newspapers….

    Yes, but only if they start printing on ZIG ZAG paper with a little organic sticky stuff to seal for those who are less adept at rolling their own.

  2. Speaking of elections coming up, and I know no better place to place this:

    I have reposted a rather good interview of Clint Curtis, Democratic Candidate for Our District, CA 04 from the landing page Brad Blog over on my little site. Perhaps Jeff, you can find a better place to link to or publish it under creative commons education license or such (you da man, in this regard). Anyways, here is a taste and links…

    JC: How does the opposition look?

    CC: I’m going to try to keep the campaign positive. I’ve been told that the guy I’m running against (Republican incumbent Tom) McClintock basically kind of does that whole nasty thing again – the personal attacks and so forth a la Tom Feeney, and in fact, one of his advisers that they hired for this campaign, was Feeney’s Chief of Staff in DC.

    JC: Oh, no. They’re not going to break out that lame old tin foil hat crap again, are they? [In the 2006 race, Feeney painted Curtis as a crackpot and even put up — andthen scrubbed — a “” web site featuring doctored photos of Curtis wearing a tin foil hat.]

    CC: I’m not sure, because in California, people actually read enough and understand enough that when I was talking about how [computerized voting] couldn’t be trusted, they’d go, ‘yes, I understand that’ — whereas down in Florida, some of these people don’t know anything about computers.

    JC: Also you’re not a one issue kind of guy. Election integrity is, of course, critically important, but your web site is clearly focused on helping the people of the district and taking solid progressives stands on the issues. It would be tough to brand you with the “crazy stick” this time out — won’t stick.

    CC: It should be tough, yes, although you know, to the small group that likes to tell their own jokes and sit around the room, they’ll be perfectly happy doing whatever they want to do. But quite frankly, Democrats do that, too. We have our own little thing of, you know, making people smaller than they are, making jokes at their expense. We just don’t run TV ads. We just kind of keep it to ourselves.

    JC: How do you like your odds against McClintock?

    CC: If he wins, he brings no money to the district. Now, this was a [Rep. John] Doolittle district, and even though Doolittle was a crook, Doolittle brought money to the district.

    It’s really what your job is as a Congressman — to find out what your district needs and get it for them. If they need roads, if they need hospitals, whatever they need, you have to make it happen. Here they get nothing. McClintock is a hard liner – ‘We will take no money, we will do no earmarks, we will not legislate anything.’

    He gets paid to stay home, I guess. He passes no legislation, so he does nothing, and that is his mantra. He symbolizes small government by not actually partaking of it. I, however, am going to bring money to the area. That should bring in all the moderate Republicans that are on the school boards and are on the highway department, that actually need this money and haven’t been able to get it.

    JC: What about specific needs for District 4?

    CC: Education. The roads are terrible. I’ll bet we have the worst roads in California. I mean, they are just horrible because there’s not anybody to fix them. I would like to increase broadband. I would bet 25% of the residents are on dial-up, because there are no towers. It’s a big area, population’s dispersed. There is money available to build towers or put in fiber optics or something, some way of getting broadband to them, but McClintock isn’t interested in addressing that.

    So we are going to address the needs of this area, and we’ll be bringing in these people from the other parties and they will tell us other things that we need to address that I don’t even know about yet. I’m willing to listen. We need to protect our water and recreational areas. It’s crucial we protect Social Security and, of course, I’m dedicated to election integrity, and that issue will always be a cornerstone.

    JC: What can people do to help?

    “Hopefully a lot of the progressives who supported Marcy Winograd will now support me. We need all hands on deck. It’s a fight we can win, but my opponent’s going to be slinging up a mud storm.”
    CC: I need volunteers, I need money, just like we always do. Just like every campaign always does, you need money and you need time, and volunteers are time, because you do have to get the word out. I’m assuming that the Libertarians, and the Greens, and the Peace & Freedom will organize their own people because this will be their first chance — perhaps their only chance if I don’t get elected — to actually have a seat at the table, so this should bring them in.

    I’d like to see a lot of them coming into this race to help us out. Hopefully a lot of the progressives who supported Marcy Winograd will now support me. We need all hands on deck. It’s a fight we can win, but my opponent’s going to be slinging up a mud storm. The progressives came out in big numbers to support Marcy. Unfortunately she lost, but I think she raised around $400,000, which is fabulous. So I’m appealing to all the progressives out there – the fight is not over. It’s just beginning.



  3. When The Union starts running marijuana ads, wonder if we will see any objections voiced by its Radical Right base in Nevada County? Wonder if Jeff Ackerman will write a column defending the practise, though not too long ago he was entangled in a legal-PR mess which came out of a column on the death of a young girl, suggested possibly to have been caused by overdose on drugs.

    My own opinion, treat ads for legal M J, if passed, same as liquor, cigarettes, escort services and massage parlors, tobacco products.

    Thanks for the Clint Curtis interview, think he points out one very good reason to give him the vote, money, which we surely need in this Congressional District If Sarah Palin could get federal money to build a bridge to no where in Alaska, looks like Nevada County should get money to build the Dorsey interchange in Grass Valley, provide access to the hospital and medical offices and the college and open up Loma Rica, get some jobs going for local construction workers.

  4. Clint is going to portrayed as crazy. It’s what crooked Feeney tried to do. I hope people will research Clint on their own. There’s plenty of information out there. He may not be from this area, but he’s very intelligent, apparently pretty honest, and has his heart in the right place. He knows “the game”, and so far still retains his integrity.

    Do your own research, don’t listen to the “mouths” on either side. has a multitude on him, from both sides.

  5. Supporting Prop. 19 will really show who is a libertarian as opposed to who is a conservative. And while we are at it, shall we also see ads for the world’s oldest profession? The Sacramento News and Review seems to make some money off their “massage” ads.

  6. This just in…DIGG Digital Campaign Impact Pot Ads resulting in Pro Pot ads pulled at another service (Reddit)! Folks, that is a heck of a demonstration of power being “taken” and time for Democrats and other third parties to get on the ball. If you can do the following, you can change a campaign big time:

    From CLICKZ…

    Reddit Drops Pro-Pot Ads, Says Just Say Now
    Kate Kaye | August 31, 2010

    Reddit is no longer running free ads for pro-pot-legalization group Just Say Now. The social news site has become the benefactor of a rebellion among users of rival site Digg, generating an unexpected traffic surge to Reddit. So, Reddit told Just Say Now the site will no longer run its controversial ads promoting a petition to “end the war on marijuana.”

    Link For Full Story:

  7. This TUESDAY DEMOCRATS (September 7th) at the Holbrooke Hotel 5:30-7:30 will have 2 speakers on Proposition 19.

    For: Nate Bradley

    Against: Sheriff Keith Royal

    Tuesday Democrats (everyone is welcome!) have been meeting for the past 6 months with interesting speakers, socializing, good finger food.

    Come and listen to the two opposing sides of the argument.

  8. I want to hear this presentation, particularly what law enforcement has to say. I have heard lots in favor of prop.19, am almost convinced since the “product” is so easy to obtain it has been semi-legal in California for years anyway and legalization would clarify some confusion, and as with other products and services, ir would be good ro have the jobs, the profits and the tax money home. I want to know, however, if legalization would make law enforcement easier, or harder, and what professional lawmen and women want to see happen on the issue.

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