Reddit Ignores Corporate, Accepts Pro-Pot Ads

By Matt Baume
|  Monday, Aug 30, 2010  |  Updated 5:01 PM PDT
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Meet the MET: Marijuana Eradication Team

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LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 19: Various types of marijuana are on display at Private Organic Therapy (P.O.T.), a non-profit co-operative medical marijuana dispensary, on October 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Attorney General Eric Holder announced new guidelines today for federal prosecutors in states where the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is allowed under state law. Federal prosecutors will no longer trump the state with raids on the southern California dispensaries as they had been doing, but Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley recently began a crackdown campaign that will include raids against the facilities. Cooley maintains that virtually all marijuana dispensaries are in violation of the law because they profit from their product. The city of LA has been slow to come to agreement on how to regulate its 800 to 1,000 dispensaries. Californians voted to allow sick people with referrals from doctors to consume cannabis with the passage of state ballot Proposition 215 in 1996 and a total of 14 states now allow the medicinal use of marijuana. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

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This November, Prop 19 may legalize growing and owning small amounts of pot for personal use. It's an issue that's stirred intense debate, and now a separate issue has come up: what kind of ads for the measure are appropriate?

Publishing giant Conde Nast tried to sidestep the issue. The company ordered that one of its properties, techy website Reddit, refuse to display ads relating to the measure. "As a corporation, Conde Nast does not want to benefit financially from this particular issue," Reddit was told.

Feeling contrary, Reddit went ahead and ran the ads anyway -- for free. It's a cheeky solution that might land them in trouble, but earned them points with their libertarian-leaning users. The site currently boasts 26,784 users on its marijuana page. Conde Nast has so far declined to comment on the controversy, which so far has cost the company an advertising deal worth thousands of dollars.

Other sites have faced a backlash after refusing the Prop 19 ads. When Facebook declined to promote legalization, they got strong criticism from the Libertarian Party. Facebook explained that users are free to talk about marijuana, but depicting images of the drug is one step too far.

Meanwhile, those who benefit financially from the prohibition on pot are scrambling to explain why the ban should remain in place. An op-ed in the LA Times by former "drug czars" insisted that legalizing pot will result in more people using it. But Prop 19 advocates argue that pot usage won't really increase, and that the only change will be that users won't have to lie anymore.

Matt Baume accepts any and all advertisements.

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