Medical Marijuana Gives Papers Toke Over Bottom Line

Tuesday, 05 Oct 2010 04:35 PM

By Mike Tighe

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Just when many newspapers appear to be on the ropes, medical marijuana may be able to throw them a hemp lifeline. Some of them, that is, in the states where medicinal marijuana is legal. News of ad opportunities such as that could make “Mad Men” Don Draper and Roger Sterling Jr. clink their drinks to toast their good fortune instead of ramping up their chain-smoking addiction as they fret about losing the Lucky Strike ad account.

medical marijuana New York Times Don Draper Mad MenNewspapers in states where medical marijuana is legal are reveling in the cash cascade from pot purveyors eager to market their wares, according to a report in The New York Times.

The approval of medicinal marijuana — it’s legal in California, Colorado, Nevada, and 11 other states and the District of Columbia — stoked plenty of angst about what political and social effects the move might generate. But few had realized what a bailout it might make to newspapers reeling from loss of ad revenues amid the recession and the flight of advertising to the Web, the Times noted.

medical marijuana mad men New York TimesFor example, The Colorado Springs Independent, a free weekly, even has a pullout supplement called ReLeaf that is devoted to medical marijuana, complete with a marijuana beat writer whose column is titled CannaBiz, the Times reported. A recent 48-page issue was crowded with ads for businesses such as Mile High Mike’s, Happy Buddah, and Healthy Connections.

A full-page ad in ReLeaf runs around $1,100, which has increased The Independent’s cash flow enough to hire a new reporter and promote three staffers to full time, the Times reported.

“Medical marijuana has been a revenue blessing over and above what we anticipated,” John Weiss, the founder and publisher of The Independent, told the Times. “This wasn’t in our marketing plan a year ago, and now it is about 10 percent of our paper’s revenue.”

The ad boon makes puff the magic dragon for such alternative weeklies, as well as some major dailies, such as The Denver Post and The Bozeman Daily Chronicle in Montana, the Times reported.

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