"Money can grow on trees." That is the message of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Foundation (NORML) in a 15-second digital ad scheduled to debut in New York City's Times Square next week. The advertisement, produced and paid for by NORML's educational arm, The NORML Foundation, will air on the CBS Super Screen through May 31, 2010.
"Regulating the adult use of marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol could raise over $30 billion annually in new tax revenue, while saving an additional $15 billion per year in law enforcement costs," NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said. "This tax season, why not ask your elected politicians why the federal government continues to spends billions of tax dollars enforcing this failed and archaic public policy."
Fifty-three percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana, according to the results of a December 2009 Angus Reid survey of over 1,000 adults nationwide.
The NORML Foundation's 'Money Tree' ad will appear eighteen times per day on the CBS's digital billboard, located on 42nd Street. Approximately 1.5 million people walk by the billboard each day.
In January, CBS and the NORML Foundation entered into a contractual agreement to air the NORML Foundation ad, beginning on February 1, 2010. However, representatives from CBS and Neutron Media abruptly pulled the ad prior to its scheduled air date, stating that its content did not comply with the network's outdoor advertising standards.
Last month, representatives from the political advocacy organization Change.org organized an online petition targeting CBS Broadcasting and demanding the network to reverse their decision. Nearly 10,000 people signed and sent the petition.
CBS formally changed their position shortly after receiving the petitions.
"NORML would publicly like to thank Change.org for taking on this important political and First Amendment issue," St. Pierre said. "We would also like to thank the thousands of concerned citizens who contacted CBS on NORML's behalf. Without your participation, this important NORML ad campaign would not have been possible.
"Finally, NORML would also like to extend its appreciation to the CBS Corporation for responding to the will of its viewers, and acknowledging that marijuana law reform is a topic deserving of such a prominent public forum. Over 20 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana violations since 1965. It is time to end 70-plus years of federal marijuana prohibition with a policy of legalization, taxation, regulation and education."
The 'Money Tree' is anticipated to be the first of two planned ad buys. The second advertisement is scheduled to debut in Times Square on April 20, 2010 - in conjunction with the informal marijuana celebratory holiday '4/20.'
Founded in 1970, NORML is the nation's oldest and largest grassroots organization advocating on behalf of marijuana law reform. The NORML Foundation was founded in 1997 to support public education, research, stake holder organizing and impact litigation. In 2009, NORML Foundation launched the first-ever nationwide television ad campaign calling for the regulation of marijuana by adults.