Hollywood actor Sacha Baron Cohen has filed a lawsuit against a cannabis dispensary in the United States for allegedly exploiting his comic character Borat in its advertisement. According to the complaint, Baron Cohen has never used cannabis and would refuse to promote it for any amount of money.
According to a complaint filed in the US state of Massachusetts, the 49-year-old British film actor is demanding damages of at least $9 million (£6.5 million). Solar Therapeutics is accused of copyright infringement and misleading advertising by the actor in the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, the commercial featured Baron Cohen as Borat giving a thumbs up and saying, "It's nice!" It was placed on a major Massachusetts highway.
Borat, a clumsy fictional Kazakh journalist who offends virtually everyone he encounters in two highly popular films, is one of Baron Cohen's most renowned characters. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, for which Baron Cohen won a Golden Globe for best actor, brought the character back to the screens last year.
Solar Therapeutics took "a gamble", according to Baron Cohen's counsel, thinking that the actor would not see the commercial. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the lawyer sent the cannabis firm a cease-and-desist letter.
Despite the fact that the billboard had been removed, the company refused to reimburse Baron Cohen for the unlawful use of his picture. Solar Therapeutics has remained silent about the matter.
Baron Cohen argued in the complaint that he has never used cannabis since it is an "unhealthy choice." He also said that despite several chances, he had declined to endorse any product in the United States and the United Kingdom because he feared it would "weaken his credibility as an actor and a serious social activist." According to the complaint, he reportedly turned down a £2.9 million offer to feature in a car commercial.
"Cannabis remains a controversial product that Mr Baron Cohen has no interest in endorsing, promoting or advertising," the legal action continues. "In addition, Mr Baron Cohen was born into an Orthodox Jewish family; he is an observant Jew, and he is proud of his cultural heritage. He does not wish to be involved in the heated controversy among the Orthodox Jewish community about whether cannabis can be used under Jewish traditions, customs, and rules."
Massachusetts has legalised cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use. Despite the fact that cannabis has been legalised in some US states, marijuana remains illegal under federal law.