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.’”

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