Nowadays, when cannabis has finally received its legality, people would expect a little more advertisement in media.
Moreover, last year, Colorado witnessed a 15-second advertisement of cannabis vape pens pulled by the license holder of the Denver station. This back off was a major surprise to the marketing agency that designed the ad. The agency kept to all formal requirements and complied with the state law that required the spot to be shown during a broadcast time for the primary adult audience. Besides, the spot did not even have any marijuana itself or people consuming it explicitly showed.
The question why exactly the channel canceled the ad was unanswered. The only reason for the cancellation was the statement that the federal regulations were not clear on the matter involving such advertisements.
In fact, the legality of advertising cannabis products remains somewhat obscure in the states that have already legalized weed.
The state law develops very fast and may allow the broadcast of cannabis ads, but unfortunately, the federal law still has a different perspective. The latter clearly says that the advertising of Schedule I drugs is a felony that may result in a weighty monetary fine and even imprisonment. From this perspective, advertising marijuana looks the same as advertising heroin. Obviously, the development of cannabis-involved broadcasting cannot move forward with the current controversy of laws.
Over the past year, the federal authorities changed their approach to a “hands-off” one. While they may look the other way from cannabis advertisements in the states with legalized weed, few channels are eager to take the risk. You never know when the federal approach will change—broadcasters simply do not want to end up without a license.
Lately, many stations have been approached with the offer to broadcast a spot that involves weed in some way. Many of them consulted a famous media lawyer Kathleen Kirby on the question. Kirby explains the cloudy issue of the ads' legality to all her clients. Kirby cautions that a prosecutor may cause some troubles, and the stations may have issues with renewing the license. As of now, none of her clients decided to take the risk and show the first cannabis advertisement on TV.
Hilary Bricken, an attorney at Canna Law Group, says that the reward of showing a cannabis promo is too low for the stations to risk it. In reality, the biggest issue of the lack of marijuana advertising may be money. If stations saw a big profit in cannabis spots, some of them would act and think about the consequences later.
At any rate, the best way to promote cannabis advertising is to make amendments to the law.
Earlier this month, Sacramento Superior Court saw a lawsuit that challenges certain statements of Proposition 64. The lawsuit demands the removal of what was described as "false and/or misleading statements" from the ballot arguments. The efforts to change the law have been already made. However, we still cannot say when and if at all the changes will take place. All we know is that it is a long process, and the first weed advertisement on TV is not to be expected anytime soon.