Scott Stanford: Addressing medical marijuana newspaper advertising


Scott Stanford

Scott Stanford is general manager of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. Call him at 970-871-4202 or email

— I did not live in Colorado when the state’s voters approved Amendment 20, making medical marijuana legal, in 2000.

If I had lived here, I would have voted “no.” But I respect the voters’ decision and accept the resulting impacts on our society, including the marketing of marijuana by licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. These are legal businesses, selling a legal product to registered users as defined by the state.

Recent discussions at the city level about restrictions and possibly bans on medical marijuana newspaper advertising are, as we recently said in an editorial, off target. The newspaper would oppose any such restrictions on the grounds that they would violate the state Constitution and the First Amendment.

That said, the newspaper has a responsibility to uphold specific community standards in any advertising it accepts. If we don’t, we risk doing harm to our reputation and, by extension, our business.

This week, we undertook a review of medical marijuana advertising in the newspaper. And I spent the better part of the past couple of days talking with medical marijuana dispensary operators. For the most part, those owner/operators shared my concerns about community standards. They take their business seriously. None complained about the guidelines I asked them to follow. Specifically, I asked them:

■ To include a disclaimer on advertising that their products are intended for sale only to patients properly registered with the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry.

■ Not to use advertising tactics aimed at underage residents.

■ Not to use advertising that misleads residents about the services dispensaries can provide.

I hope these guidelines address some of the concerns raised recently. I understand that, for those vigorously opposed to medical marijuana, such guidelines may fall short.

But if you are a medical marijuana opponent, trying to ban newspaper advertising is a bit like trying to put your finger on a piece of mercury. It doesn’t solve or even shrink your problem; it just shifts it someplace else. My advice? If you don’t like the state’s laws, work to change them directly. You might even get my vote.

If you want to talk more about medical marijuana advertising or any other newspaper issue, join me for Coffee and a Newspaper from 7 to 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Steamboat Pilot & Today office. The newspaper, the coffee and the conversation are free.

Scott Stanford is general manager of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. Call him at 970-871-4202 or email


JJ Southard 6 years ago

Thank you, Scott....for your tact and reason.


Scott Wedel 6 years ago

When are the newspaper alcohol ads going to include disclaimers that only adults over 21 may purchase alcohol?


sledneck 6 years ago

There are 10 ammendments in the Bill of Rights... 10 !


weststmbtres 6 years ago

Two of the points above.

Not to use advertising tactics aimed at underage residents.

Not to use advertising that misleads residents about the services dispensaries can provide.

My comment has nothing to do with print ads. I'm aiming this at the radio ads and the industry advertising tactics across the board. If these are really the standards the dispensaries want to portray then why do they use sophomoric humor such as the Cheech and Chong radio ads? Cheech and Chong were recreational users and linking them in any way to MMJ does nothing to help your argument that you are running a legitimate business.

For the record. I completely support medical marijuana but I am opposed to people using it as their outlet for recreational use.


rhys jones 6 years ago

I am in total agreement. We should promote alcohol as the recreational drug of choice, it being both legal, and so much better for you.


rhys jones 6 years ago

not to mention the other travelers on the road.


rhys jones 6 years ago

now leave it to this flippin rag to reverse the order of my comments


Scott Wedel 5 years, 12 months ago

Anyone think that a mmj patient with kids in the car that drives past their home, a couple blocks later takes out a power pole knocking out power for half a town and according to eyewitnesses was very intoxicated would only merit two articles focused on the power outage?

Oh, it looked to have been alcohol intoxication so there nothing newsworthy in that incident.

It is truly surprising to me that we now have a MMJ law which for all practical purpose accepts desire to use mj as sufficient to get a mmj license and the negative side effects are not obvious. The biggest side effect appears to be people upset with the knowledge that others are using MJ legally.


sledneck 5 years, 12 months ago

Yeah, It definitely ticks off a lot of the would-be Napoleons to know that people are doing stuff that they don't want them to. Can somebody please tell me why pot is illegal?


Scott Wedel 5 years, 12 months ago

Sledneck, We are in complete agreement if you accept slightly rephrase the question as: Can somebody please tell me why pot is still illegal?

Since this country once made alcohol illegal then it is not hard to understand why pot was originally made illegal.


mmjPatient22 5 years, 12 months ago


The real reason that cannabis became illegal in the first place was because it stood(stands) as the lone threat to the cotton industry(among a fistful of other industries, like paper and pharmaceuticals). There is no other plant on this earth that is as versatile and, quite frankly, as awesome as the cannabis plant. And the people that owned the cotton mills, the paper mills and the pharmaceutical mills found their savior in Harry J. Anslinger. Harry J. Anslinger was able to spread lies about cannabis and its effects on people. Stories were told to the effect of; "...and then all those Mexicans/Jazz musicians got all hopped-up on their MARIJUANA(scary music plays) and started runnin' around raping all our white women!!!!" As one can imagine, it didn't take long for that fear to grab a hold of everyone and the lies turned into legislation. The Cannabis Tax Stamp Act of 1937 was enacted to allow people to legally possess cannabis, so long as they had this stamp. The only problem with that was that you had to illegally bring your illegal cannabis down to receive your legal tax stamp. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that it should have just been called the Cannabis Sting Operation Act of 1937. From there things kept spiraling out of control with the production of films like "Reefer Madness." We were told that a teenager who got a hold of some of this Devil's Lettuce would turn into a murderous fiend, breaking out in uncontrollable fits of psychotic laughter.
All that led up to cannabis(or it's propaganda name, marijuana) being listed as a schedule 1 narcotic in the 70's. Ensuing "drug war" and subsequent prison populating....well, boy howdy, looks like we've got ourselves a whole industry built around the illegality of a plant.

And now, a little more present day, the industry is rebelling against the laws/regulations that more than 20 states are self-legislating. Dispensaries across the West Coast are being raided AGAIN...AGAIN and people are once AGAIN being arrested for their involvement with this ancient plant.

If you agree that the current way that medical marijuana is being handled by the feds is absolutely ridiculous, then go to this link and tell Attorney General Eric Holder that you think so.


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