As we noted earlier this year, the New York Office of Cannabis Management adopted overly restrictive cannabis advertising regulations. The rules effectively prevent newly licensed cannabis businesses from advertising on local radio and television stations. For example, cannabis advertisements may only be placed in programs where 90% of the audience is 21 years of age or older. This prevents advertising in most radio and television programs. Additionally, the length of the required warning labels makes it impossible to use on the radio. In many instances, the length of the warning label may exceed that of a 15, 30, or 60-second spot.
Once again, we have argued that the policy currently applicable to alcohol advertisements should be applied to cannabis ads. Legally licensed cannabis businesses should be allowed to place ads where 75% of the audience is 21 years or older. Moreover, the length of warning labels must be significantly reduced to allow cannabis advertisements to be used on local radio stations.
Ironically, New York is plagued with thousands of illegal cannabis stores. Today, consumers simply do not know whether a store is legal or illegal. Nonetheless, legal cannabis businesses are unable to advertise on local radio and TV stations. If legal outlets were allowed to advertise, they would be able to tell consumers to purchase cannabis from a licensed store and move consumers away from illegal operations.
We urged members of the Senate to support S. 7572, introduced by NY State Senator Jeremy Cooney last session. The legislation would adopt a 75% audience placement standard. The legislation allows for a flexible approach to proving whether the audience standard has been met. In addition, it would limit the length of the warning labels to 15% of an advertisement’s total time.
We recognize that it is still illegal to broadcast cannabis advertisements under federal law. However, this may change if the DEA changes cannabis from a class 1 to a class 3 drug. If this happens, we do not want to be prevented from accepting cannabis advertisements because of overly restrictive regulations in New York State. We will continue to push this issue during the upcoming NY legislative session.
You can see a copy of our written testimony here.