As personal marijuana use becomes decriminalized in the states of Washington and Colorado, we once again repeat our warning to broadcasters who may be looking to pot sales as a new source of advertising revenue – remember that the Federal government still thinks that the drug is illegal. The US Attorney’s Office in Seattle has reportedly issued a statement reminding residents in Washington State of that fact, and told Washingtonians that the Department of Justice plans to enforce Federal law on all Federal properties in the state. How does this affect broadcasters?
Broadcasters are Federal licensees. Thus, there still is a concern that advertising for an activity that is considered a felony under Federal law might present problems if a license renewal is challenged or a complaint is filed. It is Federal law, of course, that governs the issuance and renewal of FCC licenses. No FCC official has been willing to say that advertising medical marijuana is permissible (and, as we wrote last year, a US attorney in California threatened to prosecute media outlets advertising medical marijuana clinics and to possibly seize property used for such advertising). As Washington state officials discuss how to license stores to sell pot under its new laws, some broadcasters may eye these stores, once authorized, as a potential new source of advertising revenue. Especially with license renewal now underway for radio stations in Colorado, and soon coming up for TV stations in Colorado and for broadcasters in Washington, now is probably not the time to press the limits of advertising a product with such an ambiguous legal status. Continue Reading Legalized Marijuana – Why Broadcasters Should be Wary