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Marijuana Mad Men: Colorado's blooming MMJ television commercial scene

A few weeks ago news outlets across the nation, including Westword, reported on what appeared to be the first-ever pot commercial on regular TV, a spot for a California dispensary on Sacramento station KTXL.

But as it turns out, irregular TV around Colorado has been running dispensary ads for some time.

On YouTube, you can find TV spots ranging from one by the National Medical Marijuana Association, a television advertising council representing a variety of local dispensaries, that boasts high production values, soothing music and a variety of everyday folks holding signs declaring "I am a patient." 420 Wellness on South Federal Boulevard took a very different tack, producing a series of spots featuring women in tight latex nurse uniforms advertising strains like OG Kush and Jack the Ripper.

Ron Harold, CEO of the digital media company Denver Media Service, says he's responsible for Comcast developing a company-wide medical marijuana advertising policy. After two commercials he produced were rejected (Comcast decided it wouldn't allow pot images, strain names or types of edibles), Harold won them over in April with a third attempt.

As a result, a thirty-second spot for a local dispensary named Cannacopia wound up airing between 9 p.m. and midnight on all Comcast channels that weren't showing kids' shows. Since then, Harold has done many more dispensary ads, charging $1,000 for the production of three commercials. To get those spots in front of Comcast's 1.4 million Denver viewers, he says, his clients have to shell out another $1,500 to $2,500 for about 200 airings a month.

Now local broadcast channels are getting into the act. Jake Browne, general manager of the Releaf Center, says he's been approached by ad reps from several stations, including Fox31. "They were doing a crazy deal on some key slots, like during The Simpsons," Browne reports.

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