Robert Platshorn's Pot Infomercial Pulled by Orlando Station as Weed Debate Heats Up
Last month, we told you about New Times regular Robert Platshorn's latest effort to spread the word on medical marijuana. Since late 2012, the former drug smuggler turned activist has been buying up TV time on local stations for an infomercial.
So far, Bobby Tuna has bought airtime in the Tampa area and here in South Florida. His eye has always been on exporting the message to other markets in the Sunshine State.
In the past week or so, it seemed that he'd crack the Orlando market on WKCF, a Hearst Television-owned CW affiliate. But at the last minute, the deal fell apart.
-Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Florida
"When we bought the time to start running in March, they were very happy to sell it to us," Platshorn says. "Should Grandma Smoke Pot?" was inked in for six half-hour slots on WKCF, according to Platshorn. The total price was around $2,200. The deal was done on February 26.
But two days later, Platshorn's media buyer received an email from the account executive representing the station. Sorry, but the station has had some changes and no longer accepts the content -- that was the gist. Although he's gotten used to some level of rejection when it comes to trying to squeeze a pot-themed infomercial between reruns of Family Matters, the sudden reversal was a surprise.
"When I first started running this, the stations looked at it and said, 'Yes, this is a legitimate issues show.' It doesn't encourage illegal activity, and it doesn't encourage a specific political activity. So it's not politically biased," he explains. "Stations have refused to carry it due to subject matter, and unfortunately the law does allow you to do so."
But what exactly caused WKCF's cold feet? Timing might have played a part. The last week was a pretty heavy one in the world of Florida marijuana activism.
On the 26th, authorities kicked down the door of Cathy Jordan, president of the Florida Cannabis Action Network. Suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, she had been growing her own medicinal stock. Only a day later, State Sen. Jeff Clemens announced the state's first comprehensive medical marijuana bill -- legislation named after Jordan. These events come as new polling suggests 7 out of 10 Floridians favor such a bill.
"All of the sudden, this is a hot issue," Platshorn says.
New Times left a message with WKCF's sale manager for comment. When we got Rachel Weaver, the L.A.-based account executive who arranged the deal and delivered the bad news, on the phone, she said "yeah" a bunch in a suspicious tone, then answered: "I don't know if I should be talking to you about this. I don't think I can comment about any of this." She offered to let us talk to her manager. We waited on hold. And waited. Finally, Weaver came back on the line and offered to pass our contact information back to WKCF. No word yet.
None of this should really be a surprise. We're just getting the opening scenes of a cultural push-pull that's going to play out nationally over the next year or so. The last election clearly spelled it out: Legalization is a possibility -- for the first time in this drug-lovin' country's historical run. That possibility is only going to throw the rhetoric on both sides into overdrive. You'll see more boots kicking in doors, more legislative efforts. And more heads ducking for cover.
As for Platshorn, he's still spreading the word. "I just closed a deal in Waco, Texas," he says. "Talk about redneck resistance. They don't even have a decent bill up."
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