The cannabis industry flirted last week with a new kind of normalcy – doing the same thing that alcoholism-feeding rums and heart-exploding fast food chains do – advertising on TV.

KMGH-Channel 7 in Denver announced that it was going to air commercials by two different area cannabis businesses, dispensary franchise The Green Solution and vape pen company Neos, this week during Jimmy Kimmel Live.

KMGH announced last Friday that it was going to put the ads on hold, then revealed this week that the ads aren’t going to run anytime in the near future. It seems the ABC affiliate’s parent company E.W. Scripps got cold feet on the eve of the big publicity stunt. A statement from the prolific media company read that the company is “proud to be a company of free speech and open expression, but we have concerns about the lack of clarity around federal regulations that govern broadcast involving such ads.”

And they probably have a right to be. Though both ads reportedly featured no cannabis, cannabis use, or even mention of the word “cannabis” or its synonyms, they are technically advertising a federally controlled substance.

KMGH rival KUSA’s chief Mark Cornetta put it well when he told The Cannabist why he is not dabbling in weed ads. “We’re licensed by the federal government,” Cornetta said. “What sort of conflicts might that hold? We’re using the public airwaves, it’s a federally banned substance.”

It was only weeks ago that banks and bond companies in Denver were being sued for conducting transactions with legal pot shops because they were technically aiding in a federal crime. So being skittish about federal laws is understandable, even if its a little less than brave.

Here’s hoping we get a nice 30 second spot for Willie’s Reserve on the Super Bowl while Willie’s still around to do it.

Parker Winship
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