Is it Now Safe to Take Cannabis Ads?


Legal marijuana is a lucrative revenue category. Radio has had to sit on the sidelines and watch others snatch that money off the table. Yesterday action was taken in Washington that may get radio closer to sharing in that big money pot.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, which included language that would prevent the FCC from taking administrative action against broadcasters that accept cannabis ads consistent with the law of the state or jurisdiction in which the station is licensed.

Does that mean you should start taking that ad money now?

Bob Silverman is a Partner with Womble Bond Dickinson. He tells Radio Ink radio stations should not take what the House did yesterday and start taking cannabis money. “No, not at all. The House passing this bill with baked-in protections from FCC enforcement is a major feat for broadcasters, but it’s not carte blanche to start accepting cannabis ads. There’s no assurance that the Senate and the White House will sign on, and there’s still a hodgepodge of other federal regulations that impact cannabis advertising beyond the reach of the FCC. There’s simply more work to be done before cannabis ads can be considered a safe bet.

Here’s what attorney Frank Montero told us “I think once signed by the president into law it will temporarily reduce the risk to broadcasters and put them on an equal footing with other non-FCC regulated media like billboards and newspapers.  But cannabis sale and the promotion or cannabis sale remains illegal under Federal law.”

NAB also chimed in with a statement: “For too long, local broadcasters have been stuck in a regulatory purgatory because of conflicting federal and state cannabis laws. Today’s passage marks an important step towards allowing broadcasters to receive equal treatment for cannabis advertising that many other forms of media have enjoyed for years. While we are pleased to see the House act, broadcasters will continue to work with policymakers for a permanent resolution to this competitive disparity to the benefit of consumers.”



  1. As long as the federal government classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance (the same schedule as heroin, methamphetamine, and LSD), best to avoid that tempting cannabis ad money. Even if the bill mentioned in this article passes the Senate (unlikely, since the Republicans who hold the upper hand there are notoriously anti-cannabis) and President Biden signs it into law, there are other considerations, such as the banking prohibition mentioned by Walter Sabo, above.
    Since cannabis companies cannot legally use the US banking system, as mentioned by Mr. Sabo, how are the print and outdoor media companies being paid for running their advertising in those states where cannabis is legal for recreational use?


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