Consumer Products

Denver TV Station Delays First-Ever Marijuana Commercial

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The ABC-affiliated TV station in Denver, KMGH, was scheduled to air advertisements on Monday, July 20, for legal cannabis businesses during the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” broadcast at 10:35 p.m. That plan was put on hold Friday as lawyers for the station owners, The E.W. Scripps Co. (NYSE: SSP), review the issue.

The likeliest reason for the delay is that marijuana possession and use is still contrary to federal law, and Scripps does not want to run afoul of possible federal penalties nor does it want to jeopardize its relationship with its other suppliers.

For example, most banks will not offer business accounts to legal marijuana businesses for fear of being slapped with racketeering or trafficking or some other federal crime. The Denver station uses federally licensed airwaves, and using those airwaves to transmit advertising for a product that remains illegal under federal law risks the station’s ability to continue broadcasting.

The U.S. Justice Department has adopted a “wink, wink, nod, nod” approach to enforcing federal laws against marijuana use and possession, but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has not yet had anything to say about how it would treat ads for cannabis businesses in states where they are legal. For Scripps to jeopardize its license for a handful of ads would be irresponsible, and the line of shareholder lawsuits would stretch from Denver to Vail.

The TV station had apparently accepted ads from a dispensary company, The Green Solution, that has several outlets in the state, and another from a firm called Neos, a company that sells vape pens containing cannabis oil. Both ads conform to Colorado’s advertising laws which prohibit showing people in the ads using cannabis products and require the ads to be broadcast after 10 p.m.

Olivia Mannix of marketing company Cannabrand which represents Neos told The Cannabist:

There’s no product at all. You’re not allowed to show any cannabis at all. It’s more brand-focused. It shows various shots of recreation in Colorado: people camping, on a hike, portraying a cannabis consumer who is active and healthy.

No other Denver TV station has agreed to run cannabis commercials, preferring it seems to wait until the federal government legalizes marijuana.

ALSO READ: Will Marijuana Use Become Legal Nationwide?

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