Google AdSense / AdWords and Medical Marijuana Ads That Shouldn’t Be: Even I Have Standards

I don’t use Marijuana. Even some copycats. I don’t condone it’s use.  But I’m usually ok with taking bud seller’s ad dollars, because well I’m a slut for advertising.  All of that said.  The Ad that I saw running on my site today, should not be approved by AdWords for so many reasons.  The ad features a Marijuana Leaf on a pink background with what I thinks is supposed to be a police officer with a pigs tail beating a handicapped man in a wheel chair who is smoking pot.

Some where along the way someone should have said, “that is one ugly ad,” but even if Google doesn’t have standards for the artistic quality, they should have had some standard that says they don’t allow depictions of drug use, or violence.

In fact Google has a policy against this:

Google AdWords prohibits the promotion of drugs, drug paraphernalia, and aids to pass drug tests. This includes drug accessories, drugs, and herbal drugs such as salvia and magic mushrooms.

Examples of prohibited products:

  • aids to pass drug tests
  • drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and poppers

Which doesn’t quite say you can’t promote t-shirts that promote legislation… but I think it is implied.

And the terms don’t say you can’t depict violence, as long as you don’t promote it.

Ads and associated websites may not promote violence or advocate against a protected group. A protected group is distinguished by one of the following:

  • race or ethnic origin Google Adsense / Adwords and Medical Marijuana Ads That Shouldn’t Be: Even I Have Standards
  • color
  • national origin
  • religion
  • disability
  • sex
  • age
  • veteran status
  • sexual orientation or gender identity

So the best I have for reasons this ad shouldn’t have been approved is it doesn’t say the URL it points to, so I can’t block it. (I can using the right click method… the ad goes but I prefer that ads comply and show their URL)

I don’t know if a Category block would have worked on this ad.  I don’t block the “Drugs and Supplements” category, because it outperforms other ads on my sites by about 70%.


I block religion ads not because I am opposed to religion, they just don’t pay well.  Same for Dating site ads.

Overall my biggest complaint about AdSense is that so many very bad ads make it through the AdWords screeners.  While I realize that Ad Approval costs money, you would think that Google would have a technology that could read the text of an ad, and spot certain shapes in the ad and those would go through a higher level of scrutiny. (say a marijuana leaf)

This has not been the first post I have made about really bad ads making it on to my site, and likely it won’t be my last.