Will FCC Bend Rules for Marijuana Internet Advertising?

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 2.06.02 PMBy Cheryl Lee

Marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in Alaska, Colorado, District of Columbia, Oregon, and Washington, while medical marijuana has been legalized in 23 states and the District of Columbia. About a dozen more states are expected to legalize marijuana in some form in the coming years. Industry experts expect annual marijuana sales revenues in Washington and Colorado to hit $2.5 billion by 2015. To help capture this revenue opportunity, many marijuana business owners are exploring Internet advertising. Indeed, the home delivery of marijuana is currently advertised on the Internet through various websites.

But marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and current federal laws make it illegal to advertise the sale of illegal drugs. Violations of those laws can be expensive. In 2011, Google agreed to pay a $500 million settlement to avoid federal prosecution for accepting illegal advertisements from Canadian online pharmacies. Due to these legal restrictions, online giants like Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Twitter have internal policy strictly banning marijuana ads. Continue reading