For almost a decade, the broadcast industry has turned down millions in advertisement revenue, specifically regarding marijuana and other cannabis related products, out of fear that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may take regulatory action towards broadcasters that accept cannabis ads.

While the recent advancement of the fiscal year 2023 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill offers a form of protection to broadcasters in legalized states, Pillsbury Communications partner Scott Flick told Inside Radio the bill’s impact could be long lasting and it is an “incremental first step” toward initiating an immense new and improved ad category for broadcasters.

“Once these things make it into appropriations bills, they tend to stay,” said Flick. “This is something that basically says, ‘We're trying to create parity so that local broadcasters who are becoming increasingly the source of balanced news, as newspapers disappear one by one, [aren’t] uniquely disfavored by federal law just because they are licensed.’”

It is believed that the appropriation language included in the bill may face an uphill climb in Congress as the entire House must be in favor on the bill and opposition is indeed expected. However, Flick said, “Were this bill to pass, it would put broadcasters not just in a parity position in terms of being able to accept those ads.” It would also send a message to any federal prosecutor intent on targeting secondary parties, such as the landlord of a dispensary or a media outlet that runs a cannabis ad, he said.

“While it doesn't eliminate the risk for stations running the ads from other federal actions, it certainly reduces it significantly,” he added.

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