Leafly’s chief executive Brendan Kennedy hopes the new advert will help change marijuana’s negative image.
Leafly’s chief executive Brendan Kennedy hopes the new advert will help change marijuana’s negative image.Getty

The first marijuana advert taken out by a legally operating cannabis company in a major mainstream newspaper has been launched.

In a sarcastic play on the popular 1980s anti-drug slogan, Seattle-based Cannabis company Leafly launched its "Just Say Know" ad campaign in the Sunday edition of the New York Times.

Leafly describes itself as the "world's largest cannabis information resource for patients and consumers", and aims to rehabilitate marijuana's image from an illicit substance to an effective and acceptable means of coping with painful illnesses.

"From learning about the right products and strains for you, to finding trusted clinics and dispensaries nearby, we'll be here to help," the advert says.

The full-page colour ad profiles consumers such as "Ian", who "chose an indica cannabis strain to relieve his MS symptoms" and "Molly", who preferred a sativa cannabis while battling cancer.

Brendan Kennedy, president and chief executive of Leafly, said he believes the company and its advertising campaign is pioneering.

"It was important for us to make sure that it was done right from a professional perspective and done in a way that didn't embrace the ubiquitous clichés," he told the Los Angeles Times.

"That means no reefer madness. Not every brand needs to be a black and green logo with pot leaves all over it. No guy in a smoke-filled room. No nurse in a bikini like you see on Venice Beach."

Kennedy said the advert had been in the pipeline for the last 18 months. After being side-lined, plans for publication of the advert gained momentum after the New York Times published an editorial calling for federal legalisation of the drug last month.

"This is not a counter-culture product," Kennedy added. "It's a mainstream product consumed by mainstream Americans. They're just like you and they're just like me."

California was the first state to legalise medical marijuana in 1996. In July, New York became the 23rd state to legalise medical marijuana when governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act into law.