Marijuana Business Conference Commercial Pulled from TV Station in Pot-Friendly Portland


Well, that didn’t take long. After news hit that a commercial for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference (OMMBC) was going to be the first ever marijuana commercial aired during the network news in Portland, Oregon, ABC affiliate KATU decided to flip-flop and prohibit the ad. A KATU Senior Account Executive emailed OMMBC producer Alex Rogers at 10:20am Tuesday morning, stating that the ad was good to go. At 1:59pm, Rogers got another email from the executive, stating, “Loved your press release, very cool being part of history. Bring it on!!!” Unfortunately, higher ups in the network weren’t as excited about being on the right side of history.

“At 3:45pm, my ad rep called me in a frantic state, saying that ‘something was going on’ and that ‘General Manager John Tamerlano needed to speak with me as soon as possible,'” Rogers told me. “I ended up speaking with Mr. Tamerlano about 30 minutes later and he told me that he had ‘no problem with the ad for the conference’ and that he was ‘happy to OK it’ but since the ad was getting media attention as the “first marijuana commercial” on Portland network news, he was ‘going to pull it.'”

The Willamette Week reported:

“After further review, we have decided to step back,” said Tamerlano. “We don’t accept advertising for marijuana.”
Tamerlano clarified that network officials were aware of the content of the ad when they agreed to air it, but decided that it was acceptable strictly as a business commercial. When it became clear earlier today that other media sources were reporting it as the first-ever marijuana commercial, KATU reversed course.
When asked why KATU continues to reject marijuana ads despite legalization in Oregon, Tamerlano said the law was changed very recently, and cited the continuing prohibition of marijuana at the federal level.

It is a shame that they shied away from the ad. While marijuana does remain illegal under federal law, the OMMBC doesn’t sell marijuana or even promote the use of marijuana, it merely informs people about local, state and federal law. In fact, the OMMBC actually helps the federal government’s priorities listed in its Cole Memo, as it helps provide guidance for cannabis industry entrepreneurs and those thinking of joining the industry, in how they can stay within the state-regulated system and the federal tax code.

Pulling the commercial off of the airwaves, while KATU airs commercials for beer, vodka and pharmaceutical drugs with horrible potential side effects, further demonstrates the second-class citizenship of the cannabis community. We won an important victory with the passage of Measure 91, but there is clearly more work to be done to change our culture and our laws, demonstrating just how important events that help professionalize and organize the cannabis industry, like the OMMBC, are important for our cause. KATU probably created more buzz about the conference (which I help organize) by pulling the ad, than if the station would have just aired it, so get your tickets while you can.
The cannabis conference commercial too controversial for Portland’s KATU:


Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.