First Medical Marijuana Ad Airs in California

Northern California commercial hardly causes stir.

ByABC News
September 2, 2010, 6:34 PM

Sept. 3, 2010— -- A decision by a Fox affiliate in California's capital to broadcast what is believed to be the first paid ad for a medical marijuana dispensary has caused hardly a stir, according to the station general manager and the advertiser.

"I answer my own phone, and I have received nothing directly," Mike Armstrong, acting general manager of KTXL in Sacramento, said of viewer complaints about the spot, which aired on Monday. "I expected more. I don't know. I just did."

The mellow reaction is perhaps attributable to the fact that cannabis use is widely accepted in Northern California.

In November, Californians will vote on whether to make their state the first to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Another law already on the books -- Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act -- made the state the first to legalize medical marijuana.

The 30-second commercial is the brainchild of Lanette Davies, who owns Sacramento's CannaCare dispensary, which serves some 5,000 registered marijuana patients.

"It has been all positive," said Davies, who is opposed to the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. "I have not had one negative response. I expected more people to say, 'I don't like that.' I'm really pleasantly surprised that people have acknowledged the difference between a patient and somebody that is an abuser."

But John Redman, executive director of the San Diego-based Californians for a Drug Free Youth, said he expected a stronger reaction as more people see the commercial, which first aired Monday and will appear for more than a month.

"I know the prevention community is very disappointed," he said. "I think they are going to hear about it. You're going to see the tide turning on them."

The black-and-white segment shows various people talking about the benefits of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The accompanying text states that marijuana can be used to relieve many illnesses, including diabetes, HIV, Hepatitis C and hypertension.

"We get 30 seconds to portray the face of medicinal marijuana," said Davies, whose own daughter suffers from a rare bone disease and appears in the commercial. "Every single one of those people is a true-life patient. It's a very benign ad."