The first recreational marijuana advertisement created for TV was in the talks and negotiations in Colorado with ABC's Denver Affiliate, but never aired after all, according to Advertising Age. Cannabis marketing agency Cannabrand tried to run a commercial for Neos, a vaporizer and cannabis oil company, before “Jimmy Kimmy Live”. Colorado’s Amendment 64 permits TV advertising if 70% of the audience is at least 21 years old. However, airway transmissions are still federally regulated and marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

Nevertheless, there is a large and developing online advertising market in this domain, and even before receiving green light for TV commercials, there are a few ethical questions that advertising for products like alcohol and cigarettes has also brought into discussion. The current advertising context makes it even more complex due to the widespread access to Internet, viral advertising potential, and global access to online information. There are the classical issues related to exposing children and other vulnerable categories to this type of ads.

There is the potential of spreading the message in areas and countries where the product is illegal, even just for the fact that the advertisement is an excellent viral ad.

Is it ethical from the part of marketers?

Can you blame a marketer for creating a great ad for a product legal in his/her state or country?

As far as controlling distribution and access only in legal states and countries, it is clear it is extremely difficult online, with easy download, copying and reposting… Can we count on consumers’ common sense in managing these issues, their advertising entertainment and their brownie ingredients as a function of local regulations?

Maria Petrescu, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Marketing in the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at