As political races heat up for 2020, broadcasters are betting their bottom dollar that a bounty awaits them. Adding to the kitty, hotly contested ballot issues are bringing important political spending to radio. Not surprisingly, there are few that have become as much of a tug of war as marijuana legalization, which is already adding political dollars to radio coffers more than a year before the election.
In Nebraska, a series of ads produced by an anti-marijuana legalization organization are already airing several times a day on radio stations across the state, part of what organizers say is an “education campaign” about the dangers marijuana poses. Four separate 30-second radio spots were created for the state, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, some of which mention medical marijuana woven with descriptions of children consuming marijuana-laced candy and similar incidents that opponents insist will increase in frequency with broader legalization.
In addition to Lincoln, ads have been airing in the Kearney, Lexington, Norfolk and Sioux City, IA radio markets since April, according to Federal Communications Commission records. More than $68,000 has been spent on the ads to date, the newspaper reports.
Not surprisingly, that month, state lawmakers began deliberating about whether to send a bill that would set a framework of rules for medicinal cannabis use in Nebraska to the floor of the Legislature for debate. Ads continued to run even after opponents successfully blocked the bill in mid-May—when a petition drive collecting signatures to place a ballot initiative authorizing medical marijuana became a new initiative.
Meanwhile, a new Nielsen report teases about just how large the enterprise is becoming. As Inside Radio reported last week, by 2025, the U.S. hemp-based CBD industry will have become what it terms “a $6 billion opportunity.”