Why the First-Ever Marijuana Commercial Went Up in Smoke

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The first-ever TV commercial related to recreational marijuana use was supposed to air Monday night in Colorado — but it didn’t happen.

MarketWatch reported that the ad for a company called Neos was slated for broadcast on ABC’s Denver affiliate, KMGH, at 10:35 p.m. MT before “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

But the commercial never aired. While marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use in Colorado, it is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government.

And that, apparently, is what caused the commercial to flame out.

The E.W. Scripps Co., which owns KMGH, issued the following statement to Money Talks News and other media outlets on Monday afternoon:

Scripps has decided not to accept marijuana advertising at this time. We are 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.

Neos — the company that was to be featured in the ad — manufactures a cannabis extract called electronic vaporization oil, or EVO, for use in its disposable vaporization pens, also referred to as vape pens, according to the company’s website.

Prior to deciding to kill the commercial, Brad Remington, KMGH vice president, told The Cannabist (a newsletter of the Denver Post newspaper that focuses on “cannabis culture”):

“The world is changing, evolving, and we need to constantly take a look at things. After careful deliberations, we have elected to accept ads from what is now a legal business in Colorado and apply some of the same restrictions and standards that we do for similar adult products, like hard liquor.”

Speaking before the planned commercial was nixed, Olivia Mannix, co-founder of the marijuana-related marketing company Cannabrand, which represents Neos, told The Cannabist that the planned commercial followed state law:

“You’re not allowed to use any products or imagery in the commercial, so we’re keeping it in line with the standards and guidelines.”

Accordingly, Mannix continued, the ad used the phrase “vape pen” in a voiceover but did not show Neos’ vape pens or the amber-colored oil in the vape pen cartridges. It did not use the words “cannabis” or “marijuana” either.

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