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.
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/.