House Appropriations Committee Votes to Prevent FCC from Penalizing Stations for Accepting Cannabis Advertisements in FY 2023

Last Friday, the FY 2023 House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill passed the House Appropriations Committee. This is the first step in enacting legislation that will fund the government for FY 2023. The bill included language preventing the FCC from using any funds to penalize stations for accepting cannabis advertisements consistent with state law. NY has approved adult use of recreational cannabis.

However, this does not mean you can accept cannabis advertisements right now. This is simply the first step in a process that will unfold in the next few weeks and into the fall. Next, it must pass through the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, with our language, moves to the House floor for consideration in July and then goes on to the Senate. The Senate poses additional problems, not just for our language but the entire appropriations process. The appropriations process is notoriously complex, which means the bill may get stalled. Congress is likely to adopt an interim budget through a continuing resolution. At some point, perhaps after the mid-term elections, there will be a final vote.

Even if it passes, the legislation is not a “silver bullet.” This is because appropriations bills apply for a one-year period and would only last for FY 2023, which is scheduled to begin on October 1, 2022, and run through September 30, 2023. It would have to be renewed next year for FY 2024 and every year thereafter. As a practical matter, once it is included, it is like to be renewed every year.

This legislation should be viewed in a larger political context because it marks the first time a Congressional Committee has recognized the unfairness between broadcasting and other media concerning cannabis advertising. We are part of the Safe Advertising Coalition and noted in a press release:

“We are grateful to House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, Subcommittee Chairman Mike Quigley and members of the Committee for recognizing the unfairness of the present situation with respect to cannabis advertising. The provision in this House appropriations bill is a major step forward for leveling the playing field for local broadcasters. We believe the law of the state in which a station is licensed should determine whether a station can accept cannabis advertising if they so choose. We look forward to working with members of Congress and the Administration to help restore parity between local broadcasters and other media outlets.”

Moreover, we expect there will be a broader cannabis bill proposed by Sen. Schumer later this month. The House appropriations language signals that this is a critical issue for broadcasters going forward. If there is compromise legislation on a broader cannabis bill, we want to be a part of it.

We are now on first base but still have a long way to go. Nonetheless, it is time to move forward and bring this issue home.

Click here to see a copy of our Press Release.

See coverage in Inside Radio here.

See coverage in Broadcasting and Cable Magazine here.

See Coverage in Radio Ink here.