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Could health recommendation lead to marijuana ads on TV, radio in Arizona?

TV and radio stations in Arizona are monitoring a new recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services that begins a process that could lead to cannabis advertising on the air.

The recommendation is for the Drug Enforcement Agency to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug — the same group as heroin and meth — to Schedule III, a group that includes Tylenol with codeine and testosterone. 

“Our position is very simply, if marijuana is legal to use in Arizona, local media should be able to partner with those businesses to do smart, ethical and safe advertising,” said Chris Kline, president and CEO of the Arizona Media Association.

Broadcast stations are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and must follow federal law, which prohibits advertising of Schedule I drugs, which are described as having no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Reuters reports that nearly 40 U.S. states have legalized marijuana use in some form, but it remains completely illegal in some states and at the federal level. In Arizona, medical and recreational marijuana use is legal for people 21 and older.

'Smart and educational advertising'

“I can now share that, following the data and science, @HHSGov has responded to @POTUS’ directive to me for the Department to provide a scheduling recommendation for marijuana to the DEA," said Health and Human Services Director Xavier Becerra on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, Wednesday. "We’ve worked to ensure that a scientific evaluation be completed and shared expeditiously.”

Kline said the DEA will conduct its own review and, if the agency agrees with the recommendation, it will begin a process to change its rule. 

“What we’re not trying to do through this process is suggest that local media endorses marijuana use,” he said. “What we are trying to say is that if marijuana is legal to use in Arizona that local TV and radio stations should be able to — and need to partner with those businesses —  to do that smart and educational advertising. Yes, it will create opportunity for these local TV and radio stations at a time when revenue is not what it used to be and when local news is struggling in ways it wasn’t 10 years ago.”

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.