As marijuana is increasingly commercialized, with more states continuing to legalize it for medical and recreational use, we must not repeat past mistakes from the commercialization of nicotine and alcohol products that have harmed countless young people. Without proper protections, commercialization normalizes use, increases exposure and access, and emboldens industry to target young users, risking their health and increasing their chances of addiction.
To prevent and counteract these risks, it is crucial to limit youth exposure to advertisements for marijuana. Although research on youth exposure to marijuana advertising or use on television and radio is minimal, it has been associated with higher odds of marijuana use.1 This is consistent with research on alcohol and nicotine product advertising, which demonstrates that exposure to advertising is associated with increased use of those products among youth.2
Restrictions based on voluntary standards of the alcohol industry to advertise to adult audiences and avoid programs that target youth are inadequate to limit youth exposure to alcohol advertising. Alcohol ads are pervasive on television, including on sports broadcasts commonly watched by young people and other programs that appeal to them; clearly, the voluntary guidelines do little to limit flagrant violations.3 Likewise, when nicotine vaping ads were allowed on television and radio, they served to normalize vaping, skirt restrictions and encourage behaviors associated with the recent catastrophic youth vaping epidemic.4
The recently introduced Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Advertising Act would permit radio and television stations to accept advertising for marijuana products if the station is licensed in states that have legalized marijuana and permit such advertising. While the bill would require broadcasters to prove that at least 70 percent of their audience is 21 years old or older to air marijuana ads, this is insufficient and difficult to enforce, leaving far too many youth exposed to harmful marijuana messaging. Marijuana advertising should not be allowed on television or radio, even within programs ostensibly targeted at adult audiences.
Send the letter below to your senators to oppose the SAFE Advertising Act, which would fail to adequately protect youth from the harmful effects of marijuana advertisements.