Pubdate: Wed, 26 Aug 2015
Source: Seattle Weekly (WA)
Column: Higher Ground
Copyright: 2015 Village Voice Media
Author: Michael A. Stusser


A pot ad ran on TV-almost.


The first-ever recreational-marijuana ad for television was supposed 
to air last month during Jimmy Kimmel Live on a Denver-based ABC 
affiliate. At the last minute, KMGH (Channel 7) got cold feet, 
pulling the plug after the station's lawyers freaked out.

The ad, for Neos, a vaporizer and cannabis-oil company, was hardly 
Cheech and Chong-in fact, it didn't show marijuana at all. Instead, 
the spot featured young people hiking up mountain trails and enjoying 
themselves-weed-free. "You lead an adventurous life, always finding 
new ways to relax," boomed the REI-looking advert. "Now enjoy the 
best effects and control with Neos portable vape pen and recreate 
discreetly this summer." Blasphemous!

The station is owned by E.W. Scripps Company, which yanked the spot 
due to concerns the feds might revoke their broadcasting license for 
showcasing a substance on federal airwaves that's illegal at the 
national level. "Scripps has decided not to accept marijuana 
advertising at this time," said Scripps mouthpiece Valerie Miller. 
"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."

The same last-minute ditch happened last week in Portland, when ABC 
affiliate network KATU pulled a marijuana-related commercial that was 
supposed to run during the six o'clock hour. Again, the ad didn't 
feature fat nugs or hipsters firing up-it was for September's Oregon 
Medical Marijuana Business Conference. And we'd hate for anyone to 
attend that, right!?

Ya can't blame the stations, really; they're terrified about the 
possibility of losing their FCC licenses. The Controlled Substances 
Act is serious and specific about not allowing advertising that 
promotes Schedule I drugs. In fact, a violation of Section 843 is a 
felony, kids, with prison time and a roommate who's probably not 
nearly as friendly as those featured on ABC shows, including Revenge, 
Scandal, American Crime, Castle, Rookie Blue, How to Get Away With 
Murder, et al...

Those marijuana ads may have gone up in smoke, but they're the 
beginning of a move toward the mainstream. As noted, local and state 
laws are well and good, but issues like banking, medical coverage, 
insurance, and taxes-and now advertisements-are eventually going to 
need to be approved by Uncle Sam. (The FCC has no problem, of course, 
with the alcohol industry spending $2 billion a year on advertising 
and over $500 million on TV ads alone, much less Viagra ads galore.) 
Before you know it, a canna-company could be advertising alongside 
Bud Light in the Super Bowl. (Emphasis on the Bowl.)


The next governor of California, Gavin Newsom, spearheaded a report 
on legalization in his state, intended to influence the half-dozen 
groups crafting pro-marijuana ballot proposals for 2016. Before we 
get to the details, let's note one important factor: Newsom's an 
incredibly handsome bastard! Guy makes Gary Hart look downright 
hideous! (Sorry, Gary.)

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy's report emphasizes 
child safety, tight regulations on sales, safeguarding access for 
medical-marijuana users, and preventing the next "Big Tobacco." God, 
he's got great hair! (Sorry.) The 24-member panel, convened by the 
Brill Boy and American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, 
lays out 58 recommendations addressing, among other things, training 
standards, stoned driving, age limits, and taxes for public health 
programs. "We're not arguing for a free market," noted the beautiful 
Lt. Governor. "We're arguing for a very regulated market that has 
real oversight, that is flexible." (I bet he's flexible.)

The report recommends a flexible tax structure that's not too high 
(which would encourage black-market exchanges) or too low (which 
would encourage teenagers), and that is also union-friendly. (When 
you're in Cali, ya gotta kiss up to the unions, even the ones growing 
ganja.) It also suggests tax revenue go toward drug education, 
treatment programs, and policing illegal growers who are sucking up 
water from streams and public parks.

One small problem with the group's report: Though there are a 
shitload of pot smokers in California (almost 15 percent of all pot 
smokers in the U.S.), overall it's an export state! It's estimated 
that California grows almost 40 percent of the nation's marijuana-and 
exports over 70 percent of that! Makes me wonder if these powerful 
and rich growers really are interested in a seed-to-sale tracking 
system that taxes, inspects, licenses, and regulates marijuana.


Gov. Jay Inslee just signed a new open-container law, making it 
illegal for unwrapped cannabis edibles and other weed products to be 
visible in the cockpit of a car. House Bill 1276 is an attempt to get 
marijuana laws in line with those pertaining to drinking and driving. 
Just as open alcohol containers are illegal inside vehicles 
(including the glovebox!), now weed is too. So keep your bong, 
joints, nugs, brownies, and baggies of Blueberry Kush in the trunk. 
And if you happen to be driving a VW bus that has no trunk (or 
minivan, Mom), the law states that marijuana items must be stored 
behind the seat furthest from the steering wheel. Which is probably 
where the pot smokers are hangin' out anyway. What a long, strange 
road trip this has been . . .
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom