In the few days since I posted this update on concerns about marijuana advertising, there has been much attention devoted to the subject – and none of it undermines my belief that broadcasters need to continue to be cautious in this area. Yesterday, there was an article in the Sacramento Bee newspaper, specifically addressing the topic of potential marijuana advertising on broadcast outlets in light of the current ballot proposition in California proposing to decriminalize marijuana in the state. Note that the general consensus of those interviewed in that article was that caution was still the word for broadcasters who are considering running marijuana advertising.
Others may have taken hope from the recent decision of a federal appeals court that found that criminal prosecutions of entities and individuals who were complying with state laws decriminalizing medical marijuana by the Department of Justice were barred by a rider to a federal appropriations bill. Some saw this as a broad statement that the federal government would not be enforcing its marijuana laws in any context. But if you read that court decision, it is clear that the bar on the spending of any money on prosecutions applies only to the DOJ (not to all federal agencies such as the FCC) and only to medical marijuana. Moreover, the decision practically quoted the same warning that I included in my articles on the topic – the rider does not change the underlying law declaring the sale and distribution of marijuana illegal under federal law, and that we have an election in November, and who knows what a new Congress or new administration will do in this area. So the caution light continues to burn on broadcast marijuana advertising.