Reddit Bucks Conde Nast, Runs Pot Ads for Free


potADOTAS – Facebook’s decision to cancel an ad campaign from political group Just Say Now featuring a marijuana leaf — after running 38 million impressions — drew a lot of attention. In particular small and medium-sized advertisers had a right to be upset as it was another example of Facebook bending its advertising policy to assuage bigger, “more conservative” brands. I’m sure SMBs wonder if they’ve fallen below users on Facebook’s priority list — “How could we sink so low?!?”

Of course it’s Facebook’s prerogative — FB also similarly screwed over the Libertarian Party in July, but they’ve got every right to decline a pot leaf ad right after denying a NAMBLA one. But many critics wondered why FB would turn down a rather innocuous revenue stream, especially considering that the social network got its start with and is still heavily used by college kids. As Chef (RIP Isaac Hayes) told us many years ago on “South Park,” there’s a time and a place for that, and it’s called college.

Now in what’s being labeled the “Reddit Revolt,” last Friday Reddit has decided to buck parent company Conde Nast, which acquired the social news site in 2006, and run the Just Say Now ads at no cost.

Reddit, which has several user pages devoted to weed legalization, contacted Just Say Now after the Facebook controversy broke to discuss running the ads. Conde Nast, which was once known for publishing magazines and now just for folding them, told Reddit it “does not want to financially benefit from this issue.” Reddit’s management found that excuse pretty lame, commenting, “frankly… it’s ridiculous that we’re turning away advertising money.” Wired noted the social network has struggled with advertising revenue and Conde Nast could use every cent it could get.

Thumbing their noses at the parent company, Reddit decided if Conde Nast didn’t want to bring in some revenue from pot legalization campaigns, it would run the Just Say Now ad for free. It doesn’t look like Conde Nast has responded and it’s not clear whether it will.

Just Say Now, which encouraged its nearly 10,000 Facebook likers to switch their profile pics to the banned image, notes the ads are supporting passage of Proposition 19 in California, which would force married homosexual couples to smoke marijuana while limiting increases on their property taxes… Whoops, getting my propositions mixed up there — Proposition 19 would just legalize the use of marijuana. These ads are not promoting using marijuana, but holding a discussion on its legalization — I get the nuance as I’m for the decriminalization of marijuana but not (really) a user.

“Large online communities proved, en masse, that they were waaaay ahead of both corporate America and our political leadership when it comes to their readiness to discuss an end to marijuana prohibition,” said Just Say Now leader and prominent political blogger Jane Hamsher.

That’s why the Reddit example is fascinating — here’s an online social network owned by a traditional publisher that called out its parent on denying a revenue stream based on outdated social mores, for being too conservative in the always forward-moving land of the Internet.

Sheesh, even Google is running the ads — get with the times, Facebook! As Bruce Fein, Just Say Now advisory board member and former Reagan Justice Department Official, summed it up: “Facebook’s concocted prissiness over political advocacy is more to be disparaged than imitated. Freedom of expression is made of sterner stuff. Google deserves applause for exposing Facebook to shame.”


  1. $113 billion is spent on marijuana every year in the U.S., and because of the prohibition *every* dollar of it goes straight into the hands of criminals. Far from preventing people from using marijuana, the prohibition instead creates zero legal supply amid massive and unrelenting demand.

    According to the ONDCP, two-thirds of the Mexican drug cartel’s money comes from selling marijuana in the U.S., and they protect this cash flow by brutally torturing, murdering and dismembering thousands of innocent people.

    If we can STOP people using marijuana then we need to do so now, but if we can’t then we need to legalize the production and sale of marijuana to adults with after-tax prices set too low for the cartels to match. One way or the other, we have to force the cartels out of the marijuana market and eliminate their highly lucrative marijuana incomes – no business can withstand the loss of two-thirds of its revenue!

    To date, the cartels have amassed more than 100,000 “foot soldiers” and operate in 230 U.S. cities, and the longer they’re able to exploit the prohibition the more powerful they’ll get and the more our own personal security is put in jeopardy.

  2. As a gay myself, I am deeply offended that you wrote “the ads are supporting passage of Proposition 19 in California, which would force married homosexual couples to smoke marijuana while limiting increases on their property taxes”—only to rescind it moments later, revealing the passage to be nothing but a cruel joke. My boyfriend and I were all ready to get married in Canada, move to California, and vote YES on said fictional proposition post haste. Or maybe stay in Canada where people are less pretentious. We’ll see. Anyway, in future, please refrain from so cruelly teasing LGBT couples who only wanna get our munchies on. And keep our property taxes down. Thank you.

  3. With a Bachelor’s degree in English, one would think Mr. Dunaway would know that “it’s” is short for “it is.” He should be using the possessive pronoun “its” nearly every time instead. Shameful that he doesn’t know the difference between it’s and its.

    • Actually I think it’s more shameful — or rather pathetic — when commenters waste their time singling out typos. I see little errors on just about every site I read and instead of mocking the writer, I acknowledge that in Internet publishing most journalists have to write a lot of content very quickly and copy editors are in short supply.

      That said, I’m always receptive to someone pointing out where corrections are needed. I’m just not particularly fond of being told I’m a lousy writer because I hastily made a common error.

      I believe I got all the offensive instances — if I missed any, please send them to

  4. Being as we can’t outlaw stupidity drugs laws are the next best thing! BTW the national debt in in the trillions of dollars now so no you cannot just tax drugs and make the debt go away. Were these pot heads born this dumb or did they have to work at it?

  5. It is obvious Facebook is biased on this group, there are at least 120 other users on facebook with a pot leaf as there persona picture and so far well they have not been taken down, so it is pretty simple to see this is an isolated incident. sue the facebastards.

  6. I had no problem understanding the article. A reasonably intelligent reader can understand what a sentence means, regardless of the use of its or it’s. So to all you complainers shut up and realize you cannot force your morals on all of us.

  7. Gavin Dunaway Must be high while writing this. This is less than high school level grammar. “Sheeesh,” what a crappy writer. Nearly unreadable. Just thank your God for the inventor of spell check, or else I bet none of this would be readable at all.

  8. @Mike – you sbhouldn’t pick on the grammatical errors of others unless you are perfect. Capitalisation of “Must” in the middle of a sentence – this is not German – in English we reserve capitals for words at the beginning of sentences, not in the middle. Double-quoting “Sheesh” is inappropriate – double-quotes are reserved for reportage of speech. “or else I bet none of this would be readable at all” – is just a really badly worded sentence; ‘otherwise’ would be preferable to “or else” and you mixed both present and future tense with “I bet” (present tense) followed by “would be” (future tense).
    Don’t pick on other people’s writing unless yours is perfect…
    Now children – stop bickering and focus on the content, not the form.


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