Google’s advertising policy prohibits the promotion of mind altering substances, but what if the the product is used for strictly medical purposes then shouldn’t advertisements be ok?
Vireo Health of New York is battling Google over its policies blocking digital advertising for marijuana-based drugs.
Vireo sent a letter this week to Google urging the Internet search company to accept its medical-marijuana advertisements, according to a copy of the letter signed by Chief Executive Officer Ari Hoffnung.
“To date, Google AdWords has rejected seven advertisements from Vireo citing Google’s advertising policy that prohibits the ‘promotion of substances that alter mental state for the purpose of recreation,’” Hoffnung wrote in the letter Tuesday.
Hoffnung notes that Vireo started selling marijuana-based drugs in January under New York’s medical marijuana law, the Compassionate Care Act. Vireo is selling marijuana-based drugs at three dispensary sites statewide, including one in downtown White Plains.
New York was the 23rd state to allow the drug for medicinal uses. Of those states, Colorado, Alaska, Washington and Oregon have laws allowing recreational use by people 21 and older. Not only that, but the 2016 election results are sure to push the legalization agenda forward.
Many of the state laws have faced problems because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, which has some doctors, hospitals and lawmakers raising concerns about legal risks of allowing the drug. Meanwhile, thousands of critically ill patients are struggling to access medical marijuana.
Google officials didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment about Vireo’s letter.
Google is not the only company to block marijuana-related advertisements amid national debate over the drug’s legalization. Facebook, the social media giant, also blocked some ads related to medical marijuana, according to a USA Today Network report last month. Facebook’s advertising policy bans promotion of drug use — as well as tobacco products and guns.
Vireo is one of five companies awarded licenses last year to grow and sell medical marijuana in New York. Severely ill patients suffering from a list of eligible diseases, including cancer and epilepsy, are allowed to purchase non-smokeable forms of the drug, such as oils and pills, under state law.