U.S. House Passes Cannabis Decriminalization – But It’s Not Legal Yet  

Last week the U.S. House of Representative passed, H.R. 3617, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act), which decriminalizes cannabis under federal law.  The legislation takes cannabis off Schedule 1, which currently makes its possession and distribution (and the sue of broadcasting to promote it), a felony under federal law.  As you know, New York state has already legalized adult use cannabis under state law.

Passage of the MORE Act does not mean stations can accept cannabis advertising.  You have a federal license, and it still remains illegal under federal law.  Stations accepting these ads place their licenses at risk.  Legislation that passes the U.S. House of Representatives does not, by itself, change the law.  We expect Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with Sen. Cory Booker (D. NJ) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D. OR), to introduce the Senates’ version of a cannabis bill on April 20th.

The biggest hurdle is that any broad-based cannabis decriminalization bill is unlikely to pass the Senate.  So do not expect cannabis to become completely decriminalized.  Nonetheless, there is mounting pressure on the democrats to move forward with the social justice issues surrounding the cannabis debate.  Look for the Senate to try to reach a compromise toward the end of the year.

From a broadcaster’s perspective, if cannabis were completely decriminalized, we could accept cannabis advertising.  However, if legislation falls short of decriminalization, want to make sure that running cannabis advertisements will not threaten broadcast licenses.  We are working with a coalition of 20 state broadcast associations and the NAB to try to make sure a compromise package will include our ability to accept cannabis advertisements.  The policy is simple.  A station should be allowed to accept advertising consistent with the law of the state in which it is licensed.  Cable, satellite and other media platforms are allowed to accept these advertisements.  There is no reason to discriminate against local broadcasters.  Stay tuned.

To see the MORE Act click HERE.

 

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