Pubdate: Fri, 26 Aug 2016
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2016 The Washington Post Company
Author: Christopher Ingraham


But Supporters of California Bill Say Such Advertising Isn't Possible

Polls show that Californians generally support marijuana 
legalization. But opponents of the state's Proposition 64 have seized 
on a new message that they hope will persuade voters to reject the 
ballot measure in November: the idea that legalization would lead to 
a flood of TV ads for marijuana.

The assertion is based on a provision in the measure that states that 
advertising for marijuana products "shall only be displayed where at 
least 71.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 
years of age or older." It mirrors the language of the alcohol 
industry's self-imposed advertising restrictions.

In a July news release by the No on Prop. 64 campaign, Sen. Dianne 
Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that the measure effectively "rolls back 
anti-smoking advertising protections we've had for decades and allows 
marijuana smoking ads in prime time, on programs with millions of 
children and teenage viewers."

The No on 64 campaign similarly states on its website that 
"Proposition 64 would, in effect, end a 45-year ban on smoking ads on 

Polling indicates that the issue has some resonance with voters. A 
survey commissioned by the No on 64 campaign found that support for 
legalization dropped 13 percentage points after voters were told that 
legalization would lead to marijuana advertising on prime-time television.

Proponents say such advertising isn't possible. Although the federal 
government has loosened its oversight of marijuana sales in states 
that have legalized it, it still enforces certain restrictions on how 
marijuana enterprises can do business - including advertising on 
federally licensed TV and radio stations. Under the federal 
Controlled Substances Act, it remains illegal to advertise Schedule 1 
drugs such as marijuana.

Because TV broadcasters are licensed by the federal government, any 
marijuana advertising might lead to a revocation of their licenses.

Proposition 64 "is not going to change anything in terms of the 
federal license we operate under," Joe Berry, president of the 
California Broadcasters Association, said in an interview. "Stations 
aren't going to want to risk losing their license to broadcast for an 
advertisement or two from a local business."

For these reasons, the fact-checking group PolitiFact recently rated 
the opponents' claims about marijuana ads "mostly false."

At least one commercial has aired in California for medical 
marijuana, which was approved there 20 years ago. In 2010, a station 
in Sacramento aired a 30-second ad for the CannaCare dispensary 
featuring patients who were treated for pain and various diseases.

Jason Kinney, a spokesman for the Yes on 64 campaign, said there's 
currently no TV advertising for medical marijuana in California.

Colorado's legal marijuana system has similar restrictions 
prohibiting marijuana advertising in markets where more than 30 
percent of the audience would be expected to be younger than 21. No 
recreational marijuana ads have run on television in Colorado since 
voters there approved legalization.

One station considered running two marijuana-related ads during 
late-night TV: one for a vaporizer used to smoke cannabis oil, and 
the other for a Denver marijuana dispensary. The ads didn't mention 
marijuana, and they contained no images of the plant or people 
smoking it. But the station ultimately decided not to run the spots, 
citing "lack of clarity around federal regulations that govern 
broadcast involving such ads."

Authors of Proposition 64 say they included the language on 
advertising to regulate TV marketing of marijuana products as a 
precaution for the future.

"Our position was that we should have some specificity of what TV ads 
would look like if federal law changes," Kinney said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom