Google has rejected ads from a medical marijuana company in Minnesota on the grounds that it would be promoting “dangerous products or services.” And that company is calling major bullshit on that policy.
Minnesota Medical Solutions and its parent company Vireo have attempted to take out Google ads in Minnesota and New York, where it also operates several clinics, but so far to no avail. The gigantosaur tech company outright rejected the New York ads and was yet to respond to the Minnesota request as of Tuesday, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.
Given the other products that Google allows to advertise on its behemoth website, blocking ads for a state legal, doctor-recommended medicine could seem problematic and hypocritical.
Dr. Kyle Kingsley, Vireo’s founder and CEO said in a statement, “As a physician, it’s hard to understand why Google willingly accepts ads that promote highly addictive painkillers, like OxyContin, that are responsible for thousands of deaths each year, but knowingly rejects medical cannabis ads that could, in many cases, be a significantly safer therapeutic option for patients.”
The efforts to advertise medical cannabis services in Minnesota and New York could be vital to informing patients in those states. MMJ programs in both states are severely limited, with only a handful of dispensaries serving the entire state of New York and just three serving the whole of Minnesota. Only two companies have been granted permission to cultivate and sell cannabis products in the Mid-Western state: MinnMeds and LeafLine Labs.
So, making information on what few legal resources marijuana patients have as accessible as possible is vital to the programs’ successes.
“We want to help keep people safe both online and offline, so we don’t allow the promotion of some products or services that cause damage, harm, or injury,” begin the guidelines which Google has cited in this case. But that could be said of many products advertised on the website. Meanwhile, the proprietors and patients remain unserved by a company that has a virtual monopoly on search engine advertising.
“I think it is going to be challenging,” said Dr. Kingsley, “for Google to explain why it is comfortable accepting advertisements from companies that promote the sale of alcohol, knives, hatchets and infidelity, but is uncomfortable accepting ads from medical cannabis companies. We don’t live in a black-and-white world, and Google ought to adopt more thoughtful and nuanced advertising policies.”