Q: Are Philip Morris “Marlboro M” brand marijuana cigarettes now for sale in four U.S. states?
A: No. That claim comes from a 2014 satirical story. It has recently resurfaced without the satire label.
Philip Morris does not sell marijuana cigarettes in the United States. Despite some marijuana-friendly state laws, marijuana still remains illegal at the federal level.
An article that was originally posted in 2014, and republished in 2016, says otherwise. The self-described satirical website “Abril Uno” wrote that Philip Morris — which it spelled incorrectly — will start producing “Marlboro M” marijuana cigarettes. It said they will be sold through licensed outlets in Colorado and Washington in an effort to “join the marijuana legalization bandwagon.”
“Abril Uno,” or “April One” in English, has a disclaimer at the bottom of its home page that says, “Abril Uno is a satirical web publication and uses invented names in all its stories, except in cases where public figures or entities are being satirized.”
In 2015, other websites that do not have such a disclaimer republished the story, making it difficult for readers to differentiate between real and made-up news. For instance, Now 8 News shared the story. However, as we have written, Now 8 News is not a real news website. Its name is deceptively close to that of the real CBS affiliate TV station in Las Vegas, 8 News Now.
The story resurfaced on urhealthguide.com on Feb. 12. This latest version claimed that Marlboro marijuana cigarettes are now for sale in four U.S. states: Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska.
The story includes a doctored photo of a pack of Marlboro cigarettes that says, “Marlboro CANNABIS.” The article also includes a made-up quote from a non-existent Philip Morris executive, Serafin Norcik, “the Senior Vice President for marketing.” Norcik, according to the story, said: “Our company has been working hard on this clinical research trial and are ‘high’ on the idea for marketing cannabis … We have finally made the decision to take the leap and support these states in their right to legalized recreational marijuana use.”
However, there is no one by the name of Serafin Norcik listed as an executive on either the Philip Morris USA or Philip Morris International website. And there is currently no one who holds the position of senior vice president for marketing.
In an email, a Philip Morris spokeswoman, Iro Antoniadou, told the Associated Press that the account published in urhealthguide.com is false.
In fact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions in January rescinded an Obama-era policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws, which conflict with federal laws that make marijuana illegal. It remains unclear if Sessions is going to issue a new policy.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label false stories flagged by readers on the social media network.
Ciraulo, Akoy. “Phillip Morris Introduces Marlboro Marijuana Cigarettes.” Abriluno.com. 21 Jan 2014.
Ciraulo, Akoy. “Phillip Morris Introduces ‘Marlboro M’ Marijuana Cigarettes.” Abriluno.com. 1 Apr 2016.
“Philip Morris Begins Selling Marlboro “M” Brand marijuana cigarettes in Colorado.” Dailybuzzlife.com. 9 Mar 2015.
“Philip Morris Marlboro ‘M’ Brand Marijuana Cigarettes Now for Sale in Four U.S. States.” Now8News.com. 26 Oct 2015.
Hale Spencer, Saranac. “Bogus Black Lives Matter Stories Won’t Die.” FactCheck.org. 10 Jan 2018.
“Philip Morris Marlboro ‘M’ Brand Marijuana Cigarettes Now for Sale in Four U.S. States.” Urhealthguide.com. 12 Feb 2018.
Philip Morris International. “Our Leadership Team.” Pmi.com. Accessed 14 Feb 2018.
Associated Press. “No Philip Morris Marijuana Cigarettes on Sale.” New York Times. 13 Feb 2018.
Jarrett, Laura. “Sessions nixes Obama-era rules leaving states alone that legalize pot.” CNN. 4 Jan 2018.