The National Football League is moving to ban marijuana advertisements during televised games while simultaneously allowing spots for hard liquor for the first time.
In a memo obtained by MassRoots, the NFL lays out several “Prohibited Advertising Categories” for the 2017 season, including, “cannabis, other products containing cannabinoids, and products related to the production or ingestion of such products.” (Scroll below to read the memo.)
Meanwhile, the league is allowing ads for distilled spirits on a “one year test basis.”
Such alcohol ads must include a “prominent social responsibility message” and “at least 20% of ads airing during NFL season across NFL content must consist exclusively of social responsibility messaging,” the memo says. Liquor spots may not include a direct sales message, have a football theme or target youth.
There will also be a limit on the number of distilled spirits advertisements allowed: No more than four 30-second spots per game, with a limit of two such ads in any quarter or during halftime, and no more than two 30-second spots per hour within non-game NFL programming.
As in past seasons, “Traditional malt beverages (e.g., beer) and non-alcoholic malt beverages and wine are permitted.”
The new memo was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
A review of prior NFL advertising policies suggests it is the first time the league has specifically prohibited cannabis-related ads. Earlier memos banned a catch-all category of “illegal products or services.” But now that marijuana is legal in eight states and medical cannabis is allowed in a majority of states, with some federal protections being implemented, the league appears to want to make it extra clear that it doesn’t want marijuana spots being viewed during its games.
But the NFL’s aversion to being associated with marijuana didn’t stop it from airing a pot-pun-filled T-Mobile ad featuring Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart during this year’s Super Bowl.
In 2013, NORML participated in an Intuit-sponsored Super Bowl ad contest for small businesses, but was eliminated despite getting the most public votes in the competition’s first round.
Meanwhile, the NFL Players Association is formulating a proposal for the league to reduce penalties for marijuana.
Under current NFL policy, cannabis use can lead to large fines or suspensions — even when it is for medical purposes in accordance with state law. And the punishments for marijuana are often more harsh than those for domestic violence.
A growing number of players have sought to use cannabis as a safer alternative to addictive opioid painkillers.
But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a recent interview that, while he’s willing to review the policy, he views cannabis as having an “addictive nature” and is concerned that “there are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term.”
The players union hasn’t yet detailed what changes it might propose, except to vaguely say that it wants a marijuana policy that is “less punitive.”
In the new advertising memo, other categories of products the NFL won’t allow to be plugged during games include condoms, energy drinks, nutritional supplements, strip clubs, guns, fireworks, gambling, tobacco and “overtly sexual or excessively violent” video games and movies.
See the full NFL advertising memo below.