WAMC RADIO: MEDICAL MARIJUANA COMPANY CALLS ON GOOGLE TO ACCEPT ITS ADS

One of New York’s medical marijuana dispensaries is calling on Google to accept its ads. In addition, the company’s CEO accuses the global search engine of retaliation.

Vireo Health of New York CEO Ari Hoffnung last week called on Google to stop rejecting its medical cannabis ads. Hoffnung says Google AdWords, however, did accept two ads several weeks ago that did not use the terms medical cannabis or medical marijuana, yet now those have been rejected as well.

“We received what seems to be an automated email on Friday afternoon at about 4 p.m. stating that our ads have now been rejected and that Google prohibits the promotion of recreational marijuana, which is just a baffling reason to disapprove our ads,” says Hoffnung.

Read and listen to the full story here.

VIREO SLAMS GOOGLE FOR CHOOSING RETALIATION OVER ENGAGEMENT

For Immediate Release

March 21, 2015

Media Contact: Jill Montag – (518) 326-6400 and (518) 852-8188 

Vireo Slams Google for Choosing Retaliation Over Engagement

Tech giant rejects two additional advertisements hours after medical cannabis company made public plea to freely communicate with patients suffering from debilitating conditions like cancer, ALS and HIV/AIDS

New York, NY – Vireo Health of New York (“Vireo”), one of five companies licensed by the New York State Department of Health to produce and sell medical cannabis, strongly criticized Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) for rejecting two additional advertisements only hours after the Company made its plea public.

Before Friday afternoon Google had rejected seven of Vireo’s advertisements, all of which used the words ‘medical marijuana’ or ‘medical cannabis,’ but had allowed the Company to continue running two advertisements that did not use those terms. That changed at 4:13 p.m. on Friday, when Google rejected the two remaining advertisements that did not use those terms.

“We are shocked and dismayed that Google chose to retaliate instead of engaging in a constructive dialogue,” said Ari Hoffnung, CEO of Vireo Health of New York. We continue to call on Google to stay true to their ‘do no evil’ corporate values and lift those restrictions preventing us from freely communicating with New Yorkers suffering from life-threatening and debilitating conditions like cancer, ALS and HIV/AIDS.”

“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,” said Dr. Kyle Kingsley, CEO of Vireo Health, the parent company of Vireo Health of New York and Minnesota Medical Solutions.

 “More broadly speaking, I think it is going to be challenging 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. Rejecting medical cannabis ads is not only out of sync with American public opinion but also with the laws of 23 states and the District of Columbia,” said Hoffnung.

 Vireo is confident that its advertisements comply with Google’s policy that prohibits the ‘promotion of substances that alter mental state for the purpose of recreation’ since all Company products are sold strictly and exclusively for medicinal purposes and in conformance with New York State law.

Vireo officials have repeatedly attempted to engage with Google to discuss this situation, even offering to facilitate a meeting between Google decision-makers and medical cannabis patients. To date, Google has not responded to any of these requests.

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More Information:

About Vireo Health of New York

Vireo Health of New York is a physician-led company dedicated to providing best-in-class cannabis-based medications and top quality patient care. The company provides a wide array of pharmaceutical grade cannabis-based products formulated from the highest quality, pesticide-free plants and utilizes its separation chemistry capabilities to create products with novel cannabinoid combinations. Vireo Health of New York is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vireo Health, LLC. For more information, visit http:/www.vireohealthny.com.

About the New York State Compassionate Care Act

New York State Governor Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law on July 5, 2014. It allows patients to use medical cannabis if they have been diagnosed with a specific severe, debilitating or life threatening condition that is accompanied by an associated or complicating condition.

The law identifies several severe, debilitating or life threatening conditions including: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and epilepsy. The associated or complicating conditions are cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures or severe or persistent muscle spasms.

Physicians must complete a four-hour New York State Department of Health approved course and register with the Department to certify patients. Practitioners must consult the New York State Prescription Monitoring Program Registry prior to issuing a certification to a patient for medical cannabis.

Patients who are certified by their practitioners must apply to the Department to obtain a registry identification card in order to obtain medical cannabis in accordance with any recommendations made by the patient’s practitioner. During the patient registration process, certified patients may designate up to two caregivers, who must also register with the Department, to obtain and administer medical cannabis products on behalf of the patients.

Registered organizations may only manufacture medical cannabis products in forms approved by the Commissioner. Approved forms currently include liquid or oil preparations for metered oromucosal or sublingual administration or administration per tube, metered liquid or oil preparations for vaporization, and capsules for oral administration. The Compassionate Care Act expressly provides that a certified medical use of cannabis does not include smoking. For more information, visit https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/.

 

TIMES UNION: NY MEDICAL MARIJUANA COMPANY: GOOGLE IS RETALIATING BY PULLING ADS

A Fulton County-based medical marijuana manufacturer sees retaliation in Google’s decision to reject two of its advertisements just hours after the New York company went public with complaints about the tech giant’s policies.

Google had previously rejected seven advertisements from Vireo Health of New York that contained the words “medical marijuana” or “medical cannabis,” but had allowed the company to run two ads without those phrases. After Vireo released a statement Friday complaining that Google’s decision prevented it from marketing its products, Google pulled the two ads it had previously allowed.

 “We are shocked and dismayed that Google chose to retaliate instead of engaging in a constructive dialogue,” said Ari Hoffnung, CEO of Vireo Health of New York.

Google did not respond Monday to an inquiry about its latest decision regarding Vireo’s request to run paid ads. The California-based company said in an email Friday that its policies restrict a variety of medically related ads, including prescription drugs, medical devices and sexual enhancement products, in addition to marijuana.

Read the full story here.

TIME WARNER CABLE NEWS: GOOGLE DENIES MEDICAL MARIJUANA COMPANY IN NY RIGHTS TO ADVERTISE ON SITE

A medical marijuana company with ties to New York is calling on Google after they say the search engine giant denied them the opportunity to market their products. Time Warner Cable News reporter Michael Howard has the details on why Google says they did so, and how a local lawyer says it has yet to be dealt with on a national level.

The CEO of Vireo Health of New York Ari Hoffnung says he is frustrated with Google after the company denied Vireo the opportunity to market its products on the worlds largest search engine.

Vireo opened shop in January, and is one of five companies licensed by the New York State Department of Health to produce and sell medical marijuana. Their seven online advertisements Hoffnung says, would promote the four New York dispensary locations and the types of medical conditions like cancer and aid their products are for.

In an email to Vireo, Google said the ads were disapproved because they “don’t allow promotion of substances that alter the mental state for recreation or otherwise induce highs, products or services marketed to facilitate drug use, or instructional content about producing, purchasing, or using recreational drugs.” But Hoffnung says their products are only used for medical purposes, not recreation.

“Anyone who knows anything about New York states medical marijuana program knows that it is not a recreational program, it’s very highly controlled,” said Hoffnung.

Watch the full story here.

TIMES UNION: ‘MARIJUANA’ ADS FAIL GOOGLE POLICY TEST

Don’t try to Google the terms “medical marijuana” or “medical cannabis” and expect to find ads for dispensaries in New York.

The operator of one of five new medical marijuana providers in the state recently learned that the hard way.

When he tried to advertise with the search engine giant he found that ads with those terms — “medical cannabis” or “medical marijuana” — were rejected.

While Google accepted other ads without those terms, it was akin to, say, Ford running a search engine ad without the term “car” or “truck,” said Ari Hoffnung, CEO of Vireo Health of New York, one of five providers recently licensed under the state’s Compassionate Care Act which allows limited use of medical marijuana.

“We are confident that our advertisements comply with Google’s policy,” Hoffnung wrote in a letter to Google co-foundersLarry Page and Sergey Brin on Tuesday.

“Our products are sold strictly and exclusively for medicinal purposes and in conformance with New York State law.”

Read the full story here.

CRAIN’S NY BUSINESS: NEW YORK CANNABIS COMPANY CALLS GOOGLE’S AD POLICY ‘EVIL’

New York medical-marijuana companies opened their dispensaries for business in January, but it’s been difficult to get the word out. Not only does the state prohibit companies from approaching doctors about their products, but Google and Facebook have also put up obstacles to reach patients.

Vireo Health of New York has been trying to promote its four medical-marijuana dispensaries with ads like “Our medical-marijuana dispensaries are now serving HIV/AIDS patients.” But so far, Google AdWords, which lets companies pay to have sponsored content show up in certain keyword searches, has rejected all of Vireo’s submissions.

Vireo Health is far from the first company to be affected by Google’s stance on cannabis ads, but its chief executive, Ari Hoffnung, is confronting the Internet giant. Specifically, he called the company’s policy not only misguided but also “inadvertently evil,” in a letter sent to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin this week.

Google’s policy on “dangerous products or services” prohibits the “promotion of substances that alter mental state for the purpose of recreation or otherwise induce ‘highs.’”

Read the full story here.

VIREO CALLS ON GOOGLE TO STOP REJECTING MEDICAL CANNABIS ADS

For Immediate Release

March 18, 2015

Media Contact: Jill Montag – (518) 326-6400 and (518) 852-8188

 Vireo Calls on Google to Stop Rejecting Medical Cannabis Ads

Internet search engine giant blocked ads designed for patients with  life-threatening and debilitating conditions like cancer, ALS and HIV/AIDS

New York, NY – Vireo Health of New York (“Vireo”), one of five companies licensed by the New York State Department of Health to produce and sell medical cannabis, is urging Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) to accept its advertisements using the words ‘medical cannabis’ and ‘medical marijuana.’

“We are confident that our advertisements comply with Google’s policy,” wrote CEO Ari Hoffnung in a letter to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin on March 15, 2016. “Our products are sold strictly and exclusively for medicinal purposes and in conformance with New York State law.”

Google AdWords has rejected seven advertisements from Vireo, designed for patients with life-threatening and debilitating conditions like Cancer, ALS and HIV/AIDS, citing Google’s advertising policy that prohibits “the promotion of substances that alter mental state for the purpose of recreation…”

Under the New York State Compassionate Care Act, Vireo’s products cannot be sold or used for recreational purposes. Therefore, Vireo believes that Google’s rejection is a misapplication of the company’s own policy, as well as a potential violation of First Amendment and antitrust laws.

“It is difficult to understand or justify a policy that will impede a patient’s ability to access information about products that have been approved by the New York State legislature and have been identified as therapeutically beneficial,” added Hoffnung. “These patients and their caregivers need access to this information, and if Google continues to deny this access, it is clearly contradicting one of its core values.”

Vireo officials have repeatedly attempted to engage with Google to discuss this situation. Hoffnung has offered to make himself available, with or without a group of Vireo’s patients, to meet representatives from Google. To date, Google has not responded to any of these requests.

For more information, please see letter and rejected advertisements

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About Vireo Health of New York

Vireo Health of New York is a physician-led company dedicated to providing best-in-class cannabis-based medications and top quality patient care. The company provides a wide array of pharmaceutical grade cannabis-based products formulated from the highest quality, pesticide-free plants and utilizes its separation chemistry capabilities to create products with novel cannabinoid combinations. Vireo Health of New York is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vireo Health, LLC. For more information, visit http:/www.vireohealthny.com.

About the New York State Compassionate Care Act

New York State Governor Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law on July 5, 2014. It allows patients to use medical cannabis if they have been diagnosed with a specific severe, debilitating or life threatening condition that is accompanied by an associated or complicating condition.

The law identifies several severe, debilitating or life threatening conditions including: cancer, HIV infection or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and epilepsy. The associated or complicating conditions are cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures or severe or persistent muscle spasms.

Physicians must complete a four-hour New York State Department of Health approved course and register with the Department to certify patients. Practitioners must consult the New York State Prescription Monitoring Program Registry prior to issuing a certification to a patient for medical cannabis.

Patients who are certified by their practitioners must apply to the Department to obtain a registry identification card in order to obtain medical cannabis in accordance with any recommendations made by the patient’s practitioner. During the patient registration process, certified patients may designate up to two caregivers, who must also register with the Department, to obtain and administer medical cannabis products on behalf of the patients.

Registered organizations may only manufacture medical cannabis products in forms approved by the Commissioner. Approved forms currently include liquid or oil preparations for metered oromucosal or sublingual administration or administration per tube, metered liquid or oil preparations for vaporization, and capsules for oral administration. The Compassionate Care Act expressly provides that a certified medical use of cannabis does not include smoking. For more information, visit https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/.

 

FOOD & WINE: OY VEY! THERE IS NOW KOSHER CERTIFIED MARIJUANA

Kosher-certified marijuana is now a thing – but before you have the chutzpah to bring weed-laced Hamentaschen to your grandma’s Purim celebration, take heed: It’s currently only available to those with a medical need.

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post , Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s kashrut department, said in a statement that the new medical cannabis products from Vireo Health “were developed to alleviate pain and suffering in accordance with the New York State Compassionate Care Act.” The statement adds, “Using medical cannabis products recommended by a physician should not be regarded as a ‘chet,’ a sinful act, but rather as a mitzvah, an imperative, a commandment.”

Read the full article here.

WBNG-TV: ALL-ACCESS: A TRIP INSIDE A MEDICAL MARIJUANA GROWING FACILITY

Fulton County, New York (WBNG Binghamton) Medical marijuana is being grown legally in New York for the first time in more than a century. Josh Martin of Action News was given an exclusive look inside a brand new medical marijuana facility.

The New York State Medical Marijuana Program was launched on Jan. 7. Vireo Health’s facility in Fulton County is a converted juvenile correction facility– and only one of four places in the state where marijuana can legally be grown.

“Because of the federal laws and how they are now, medical cannabis that is sold in New York must be manufactured in New York,” said Vireo CEO Air Hoffnung.

Vireo grows five different strains of marijuana with varying levels of pain-relieving compounds like THC and CPD. The 16 week growing process begins in rooms with blue light for the plants. The lights are on 24 hours a day. The plants are grown hydroponically–meaning without soil.

“We will take a rooted cube to put the plant in,” said Head Grower at Vireo Chuck Schmitt. “We take that rooted cube and we will put it in this block here and that is how we end up with the plants.”

Watch WBNG-TV’s full story here.