The United States House of Representatives passed a bill this week that would allow cannabis advertising on television and radio stations. The legislation is included as part of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriation Bill for Fiscal Year 2023, which passed lawmakers in the House on Wednesday.
Under the provisions of the appropriations bill, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would not be authorized to use appropriate funds to deny a broadcaster an application to renew or sell a license to air cannabis commercials in jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana. The FCC would also be prohibited from requiring a station to file an application for an early license renewal to air cannabis commercials.
Current regulations allow the FCC to revoke a license from broadcasters who broadcast advertisements for federally illegal products, including weed, even in states that have passed laws legalizing cannabis. As a result, cannabis companies are limited to advertising in other forums, including print newspapers and magazines, online, billboards, cable television, satellite radio, and social media. Alex Siciliano, spokesman for the National Associations of Broadcasters, said Wednesday that legislation passed in the House this week levels the playing field for cannabis advertising.
“For too long, local broadcasters have been stuck in regulatory purgatory due to conflicting federal and state cannabis laws,” Siciliano said in a statement. “Today’s passage marks an important step towards giving broadcasters equal treatment for cannabis advertising that many other forms of media have enjoyed for years. While we are delighted to see the House take action, broadcasters will continue to work with policy makers for a permanent resolution of this competitive disparity for the benefit of consumers.
Broadcasting groups applaud the legislation
The spending bill passed the House Appropriations Committee in June. The legislation gives broadcasters access to the growing cannabis advertising market, which is expected to total $18.5 billion this year alone.
“We are pleased to see this bipartisan language moving forward in the House today,” Siciliano said in a statement late last month. “As the vast majority of states have legalized cannabis in one form or another, today marks a long overdue step to finally allow broadcasters to receive equal treatment regarding cannabis advertising as other forms of media. have had for years.”
David Donovan, president of the New York State Broadcasters Association (NYSBA), thanked House lawmakers “for recognizing the injustice of the current state of cannabis advertising.”
“The provision of this House appropriations bill is a big step forward in leveling the playing field for local broadcasters,” Donovan said in a statement from the broadcast industry group. “We believe that the law of the state in which a station is licensed should determine whether a station can accept cannabis advertising if it chooses. We look forward to working with members of Congress and the administration to help restore parity between local broadcasters and other media.
“We believe that the law of the state in which a station is licensed should determine whether a station can accept cannabis advertising if it chooses to,” Donovan added. “We look forward to working with members of Congress and the administration to help restore parity between local broadcasters and other media.”
Before the bill takes effect, it still needs to be passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Joe Biden. The NYSBA noted that obtaining Senate approval for legislation can be a challenge.
“The appropriations process is notoriously complex, which means the bill can be blocked. Congress is likely to pass an interim budget through a continuing resolution. At some point, perhaps after the midterm elections, there will be a final vote. Even if passed, the legislation is not a “silver bullet”.
Since the cannabis advertising provisions were passed as part of an annual appropriations bill, the FCC’s ban on taking action against broadcasters for airing bad herbs would only be in effect for one year, beginning October 1. For marijuana advertising terms to continue, the credits language must be re-authorized every year.