There’s no question that the laws around the sale of marijuana and other cannabis-derived products are changing. Unfortunately, advertising for products containing marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD) or even hemp is constrained by a web of federal and state laws. Moreover, these laws are in a state of flux. Here are some recommendations on how to navigate through the weeds.
U.S. states are increasingly legalizing marijuana, but the drug still isn’t mainstream enough to convince CBS to let a cannabis company run a Super Bowl ad in 2019. Acreage Holdings, a New York-based cannabis firm that made a splash last year when it added former House Speaker John Boehner to its board, says that CBS rejected its proposed 30-second spot.
Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a one-page memo advising federal prosecutors to use their discretion in pursuing marijuana prosecutions — even in states where state law has made marijuana legal for either medical or recreational use. Yesterday’s action by the DOJ, essentially repealing guidance given to federal prosecutors not to pursue marijuana cases where there was no abusive conduct does nothing to lessen the risk to broadcasters of running such ads, and in fact likely ups those risks.
Even in states where marijuana has been legalized, broadcasters should be cautious about accepting advertising for marijuana or related paraphilia. Specifically, decisions by the FDA and the Department of Justice have done little to cut through the smoke shrouding the issue. Now, perhaps the last United States agency that one might expect to have anything to say has weighed in as well — the Patent and Trademark Office — but the haze remains thick.
Last week’s letter from the FDA detailing its position that there should be no change in marijuana being classified as a Schedule I drug under federal law reinforces the fact that, under federal law, the drug is still illegal — no matter what certain states may do to legalize or decriminalize its use. Here’s what broadcasters should know.
Contrary to plans announced last week, Scripps’ Denver ABC affiliate will not proceed with TV commercials for marijuana-related products.
Denver’s ABC affiliate, KMGH, is on the verge of running what are said to be the first marijuana-related TV commercials. But after confirming the controversial move in The Cannabist, the station last Friday put the ads on hold. For now, the issue is in the hands of station owner E.W. Scripps’ lawyers.
The citizens of Washington state may have voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use by a margin of 56% to 44% back in 2012, but that doesn’t mean state regulators have to make it easy for consumers to find or merchants to sell. Last week, the state’s Liquor Control Board, which has authority over the marijuana trade, issued strict new ad guidelines limiting marketing and promotional efforts by marijuana vendors.