NFL Bans Marijuana Ads, But Hard Liquor Ads Approved

The NFL's Pot Problem

With the addition of Indiana recently on to the list of states that approve of medical marijuana use, now fully three-quarters of the teams in the NFL play in such states. In addition, one-quarter of NFL teams play where[*] adult use of marijuana is legal.

Yet, in the latest memo from the NFL concerning television advertising, the league steadfastly bans the promotion of any cannabinoid products during its games, even in those legal/medical states.

However, the league isn’t completely anti-drug.

For years we’ve enjoyed the clever beer ads that dominate the NFL telecasts, including ads for Bud Light, “The Official Beer of the NFL” through 2022. Anheuser-Busch/ImBev paid a hefty $1.4 billion for that designation, which allows them to put NFL teams’ logos on their packaging and use highlights from the games on its website and social media.

Now, the NFL has ended its longstanding ban on hard liquor ads, starting next season.

It’s been hypocritical enough that the NFL promotes Bud Light but not lighting buds.

Now, we must endure promotions of tequila and cognac but not THC and CBD?

Especially when the league has a big problem with painkiller and alcohol abuse, while players are recognizing the ability of cannabis to treat pain and concussions?

Some ad execs believe the NFL’s move is part of their drive to increase women’s support of football.

“Women are an enormous growth market for whiskey and other companies wondering, ‘How can we be a drink of choice for women?’” Kat Gordon told Forbes Magazine. She also believes that ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have been given the green light so more NFL fans can enjoy drinking without worrying about impaired driving. “It’s an interesting time to set the bar toward a more social and convivial environment.”

What’s more social and convivial than adults passing around a joint?

Perhaps adults meeting at a bar televising a football game, sharing some hard alcohol, then deciding to catch a Lyft back to the house to enjoy a little, shall we say, two-hand touch?

If so, don’t expect the NFL to promote any method for the two of you to avoid sexually-transmitted diseases or pregnancy. “Contraceptives (e.g., condoms)” are also on the NFL’s list of banned advertisements.

But not all sex pharmaceuticals are banned—just the ones that women might find useful. Anybody who’s seen an NFL telecast knows the broadcasts are replete for erectile dysfunction drugs, like Viagra.

As for other pharmaceuticals, there is a page-long list of which drugs the NFL is happy to accept advertiser dollars for. A notable exception is in the analgesics category, where the NFL only allows “non-opioid” advertisements. (The opioids are for the players, after all, not the fans.)

The NFL also wants no part of gambling. Advertisements for tourist destinations like Las Vegas “may not contain images of slot machines, dice, cards, or a wide shot of Vegas strip and casinos but may contain images of golf, swimming pools, and performers.” This despite the fact that the league has voted 31-1 to approve the move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas.

The usual excuse for these kinds of policies falls into the “what about the children” variety.

Heaven forbid the impressionable minds of our children be subjected to promotions of cannabis, gambling and contraceptives in between the spectacle of steroid-bulked gladiators accused of domestic abuse, dog torture and murder slamming into each other with brain-damaging force!

Better they see ads promoting the idea that young, sexy adults have fun by consuming alcohol, right, NFL?

[*] If we consider the Washington RacialSlurs as a team from Washington, D.C., rather than considering that they actually play at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

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