Newspapers probably safe running greenhouse ads for hemp flowers and prerolls


Have a question about access, public records or other issues? Send your questions to Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, or call 317-624-4427.

The following questions were submitted by the Francesville Tribune, The Salem Leader and The Salem Democrat, Bluffton News-Banner:

Consult attorney if source implies threat of legal action, asserts exclusive media agreement

Q: Two of our sources sent us this email: “This is to inform you that I have signed an exclusive media agreement. With that being said, I do not give you permission to use my story moving forward. This is including and not limited to all audio, video, photographs, written documents that you have, and/or personal recordings that have been provided to you. This pertains to any future podcasts, written articles, videos with you or anyone else affiliated with WFYI as well as outside sources. If you have any questions or concerns, you can email me and I can provide you with contact information for the producer.”

In the course of reporting our podcast, we have gathered on the record interviews, photos and public documents related to this person’s “story” that they are saying we no longer have the right to use, and we’re hoping you can clarify legally if that’s the case. We planned to continue to use those recorded interviews in future radio specials, social media posts and possibly future podcast episodes.

A: If the interview was given prior to any agreement being signed, I don’t see how WFYI could be legally bound by such a prohibition. One can’t grant an interview knowing it could be broadcast or used in a story and then days, weeks, or months later inform you that you can’t use it. The person or persons can’t control what is news. They could have refused to speak to you in the first place, but can’t retroactively create a prior restraint on your use of something they gave permission to use earlier.

Since there is the implied threat of legal action, I recommend you speak to your attorney for specific advice on this situation. She/he might recommend you reach out to the “producer” to give them a heads up on your intent to move forward. There’s also the question of whether the station is willing to risk a lawsuit, even if it is more than likely to succeed in defeating such lawsuit.

Newspapers probably safe running greenhouse ads for hemp flowers and prerolls

Q: Are there any restrictions to a business advertising hemp flowers or prerolls? I have a greenhouse wanting to advertise these products, but I wanted to check first on the legality before accepting the advertisement.

A: Here’s a reply based on a previous answer I have given and note for you added:

“I’ve gotten some information back concerning medical marijuana and hemp. This comes from the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC). According to the prosecutor’s group, there are two active ingredients in marijuana, which is related to hemp. They are THC and CBD. THC is what creates the high. CBD is what is being touted as a pain reliever.

IPAC said if a product doesn’t have any THC in it, it doesn’t violate state law, but federal law would say a product with either THC or CBD in it is illegal. This is part of dilemma for states that have legalized marijuana, while state law may allow its possession and sale, federal law still says it’s a crime.

If your advertiser wants to continue to run an ad, he/she should know whether the product contains either active ingredient. Depending upon the answer, the product could either be legal, illegal by federal law, or illegal by federal and state law.

While the newspaper may not have any criminal liability for allowing an ad for an illegal substance, you probably have a policy that would prohibit you from accepting an ad for an illegal product. The policy is probably tied to old postal regulations that prohibit periodicals from promoting illegal activity (used to be gambling was the issue for the postal service). I can’t say whether the postal service is monitoring medical marijuana/hemp advertising.

Sorry for a less than simple answer, but that’s the state of marijuana/hemp/CBD laws across the country – not simple.”

I’ve seen nothing from any state that the postal service has taken action against any newspaper for publishing this type of advertising, which should have popped up in Colorado if they intended to make an issue out of it. I’ve also not heard about any effort by Indiana State Police to crack down on hemp possession. The Marion County prosecutor has declared it will stop prosecuting possession of small amounts of marijuana.

I think a newspaper is probably safe to run ads, but you might want to share with advertiser to make sure they are comfortable with advertising.

Holiday break in paper’s publication might affect public notices

Q: I have a quick question regarding legal publications. As you may or may not know, we are taking a week off during the holidays and will not publish a paper on Jan. 1. Do you know how that affects public notice that must be published 2 or 3 times in succession? (i.e. If a notice must run twice, is it acceptable to publish it Dec. 25 and Jan. 8?)

A: Since there is no edition for that week off, the chain of successive weeks will not be broken. What can be a problem to be considered is if the notice includes legal requirements as to how many days before the noticed event occurs must the first or last notice be published. As long as the two notices are run at least as many days as required, the notice should be sufficient.