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New York Medical Marijuana Company Battling Google Over Ads

Vireo Health New York Medical Marijuana Dispensary


New York Medical Marijuana Company Battling Google Over Ads

Vireo Health of New York is battling Google because it blocked their digital advertising for marijuana-based drugs.

Vireo sent a letter this week to Google urging the tech giant to accept its medical-marijuana advertisements. The letter was signed 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. In January, New York’s medical marijuana law, the Compassionate Care Act, came into effect.

Vireo is selling marijuana-based drugs at three dispensary sites statewide.

The company is outraged that Google is blocking their advertisements. They think that their ads meet Google’s ad policy.

“We are confident that our advertisements comply with Google’s policy, as our products are sold strictly and exclusively for medicinal purposes and in conformance with New York law,” Hoffnung wrote, “Our products are not ever (and legally cannot be) sold or used for recreational purposes.”

According to sources, 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 amidst national debate over the drug’s legalization.

Facebook also blocked some ads related to medical cannabis, according to a Huffington Post report. Facebook’s advertising policy bans promotion of drug use, as well as tobacco products and guns.

Vireo is one of just 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 cannabis. But under the law, they are required to use non-smokeable forms of the drug, such as oils and pills.

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.

Many of the state laws have faced problems because marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Some doctors, hospitals and lawmakers are raising concerns about legal risks of allowing the drug.

Meanwhile, thousands of critically ill patients are struggling to access medical marijuana.

(Photo Credit: VireoHealth)

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