Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat
Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat REUTERS

British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen filed a lawsuit against a cannabis company on Monday alleging an image of his famous character Borat was used without his permission in an ad on a Massachusetts interstate billboard.

In the suit, he stated that one of the reasons he was taking legal action was that being born into an Orthodox family and being an observant Jew, "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," his lawyer David Condon wrote.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Baron Cohen, who played the fictitious Kazakh television journalist Borat Sagdiyev in two movies and on his UK television series Da Ali G Show, is suing Solar Therapeutics for willful copyright infringement, false advertising and misappropriation of his right of publicity.

The billboard advertised “sustainable cannabis” and featured Borat giving his signature thumbs up and catchphrase “It’s nice!”

The lawsuit states that Baron Cohen has never used cannabis and would never lend his name to advertise for a cannabis product. His representative said that Cohen does not believe cannabis is a “healthy choice.” He is suing the company for $9 million, reported the BBC.

Baron Cohen’s lawyer alleged that the company thought they could “take a gamble” that in using the actor’s image, he would never find out about it.

His lawsuit stated that his persona as a well known actors is "of very significant commercial value" and that he had previously turned down multiple offers to appear in commercials, including $4 million to star in a car ad.

The satirist is “highly protective of his image and persona” and has in his movies and television show made fun of “stoner” culture with his Ali G character, the legal brief states, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

"Cannabis remains a controversial product that Mr Baron Cohen has no interest in endorsing, promoting or advertising,” it explained.

Cannabis is legal for medical and recreational use in Massachusetts.

Baron Cohen’s Borat character returned to theaters last year in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, which netted the star a best actor award at the Golden Globes.