A television spot that is being considered the first advertisement for recreational marijuana to be broadcast in the United States was shut down earlier this week over concerns that it would violate federal law.
The Denver Post reported that ABC affiliate KMGH-Channel 7 was weighing the legal ramifications of running a 15-second spot for the company NEOS, which sells cannabis products. However, in the end, the station made the decision to pull the plug on the ads before they ever had a chance to air for fear that moving ahead would result in a legal quandary that company executives weren’t prepared to face.
From the sound of it, this ad or any other related to the cannabis industry will not be appearing on the Denver TV station in the near future. An email sent by Brad Remington, general manager at the station, said that plans to run the commercials have been shut down until further notice.
“We just told our sales staff the running of marijuana ads on TV on KMGH is on hold indefinitely. Scripps PR asked me to share this message on why they reversed their decision to accept the ads right now,” Remington wrote.
The station’s parent company, E.W. Scripps, said that while the company does not have a policy against running cannabis-related ads, their decision to cut the cord on NEOS’ spot was out of concerns that running a commercial for a “federally banned” substance might create some chaos within the organization’s legal department.
“We are proud to be a company of free speech and open expression, but we have concerns about the lack of clarity around federal regulations that govern broadcast involving such ads,” Valerie Miller, a spokesperson for the company told CNN Money.
But really, what’s worst that could have happened if the commercial would have aired?
Technically, the law allows cannabis-related ads to run in Colorado as long as there is evidence that 70 percent of the listening or viewing audience is over the age of 21. The NEOS ad was scheduled to air during Jimmy Kimmel Live, which has a fan base that would have honored those demographic requirements. Yet, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the airwaves across the entire nation, so there could have potentially been some trouble if the agency decided to press the issue.
The latest word from FCC, however, is that they have not yet formed an opinion over the topic of marijuana advertisements.
Do you think there should be cannabis commercials on television? Share your opinion in the comments.