WASHINGTON – Advertising opportunities for legal cannabis businesses could expand exponentially if a policy rider to the fiscal-year 2023 federal budget remains intact.
Verbiage in the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill advanced by the House Appropriations Committee would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from using appropriated funds to act against broadcasters that accept cannabis ads from licensed businesses in legal states.
The mechanism is similar to that used in the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment to the annual federal budget, which since 2001 has prohibited the Department of Justice from using its funds to interfere with the implementation of state cannabis laws.
National Association of Broadcasters spokesperson Alex Siciliano called the move “a long overdue step” to put radio and television stations on equal footing with websites, streaming media, print publications, and out-of-home advertising companies. None of the latter group is regulated by the FCC, which currently has the power to deny license renewals, revoke licenses, or nix a station sale if a broadcaster accepts advertising for products or services that are federally illegal.
There is no guarantee the rider will remain part of the budget bill. The SAFE Banking Act, which would prohibit federal regulators from interfering with financial institutions that accept cannabis clients, was excised from a larger bipartisan commerce bill only weeks before the Appropriations Committee submitted its proposed budget.
The federal fiscal year begins October 1.