Just say yes
Remember last year in Monster Energy Supercross when privateer Dean Wilson showed up at the races with a CBD oil company as a sponsor? That created quite a stir amongst the TV production people and Feld Motorsports, the promoter. The issue being that CBD, a derivative of the hemp plant that of course is where you get marijuana from, is still in some sort of grey area of legality over here in the USA. As we collectively relax a bit as a country on using marijuana for medical and even recreational purposes, there’s still some states and regulators that don’t want to head down this road, feeling like it’s a slippery slope.
So Wilson, and then later Chad Reed, were told to cover up their logos of the CBD companies at the races while Feld, and TV partner NBC, try to work it all out. In some states it seemed like it would be fine but federally, the laws about advertising CBD, like with cigarettes and alcohol, were in flux. It was a confusing time for sure because while Feld said it was an NBC issue about showing the riders (because in some states it wasn’t legal) others saw that same network televising golfers with logos of CBD companies all over their bags. Some of us in the media met with Feld’s VP of Public Affairs and Privacy, Stephen Payne, last year and he admitted that it was a confusing time for everyone trying to get some of the massive CBD pot of gold. The federal government has cleared CBD for sale but the advertising of it was a bit murky with Wilson and Reed caught in this world of not really being sure of what was permitted and what wasn’t.
Of course, not sure if you noticed but racing isn’t in a great state these days with teams like JGR Suzuki hanging-on without a title sponsor last year and maybe even this year. So the fact that these CBD companies are popping up like weeds and appear to have a lot of marketing dollars but our sport is saying ‘no mas’ while others grab it isn’t great. It was frustrating for everyone involved and even Payne told us that it might be a “matter of months” before everything turns around.
Well, he was right because at the Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas, Feld announced that CBD MD (Reed’s sponsor) had signed on to be an associate sponsor of the series itself. From being banned from the pits to being on tuff blocks and stadium walls in six months!
To be fair to Feld, as we just said Payne did tell us last March that things at the government level were changing fast in regards to the CBD thing and they were watching it. They, just like the racers and teams, are interested in growing their pot of gold also right? Reed, who’s never shy to express his feelings, was fine with his company supporting the series and he ran CBD MD graphics all over his bike and body at the MEC.
Some of the media again met with Payne at the MEC and he acknowledged that things changed, as he predicted they might, and the laws regarding advertising CBD is clearer. There are still some things that need to be worked out but state by state is relaxing their laws on advertising this oil/cream/drops but there does seem to be a bit of a wild west attitude amongst some of the CBD companies out there and the government is trying to control the messages some of them give out but, like whacking a mole at the carnival, they’re a bit behind.
So while there was some eyebrow raising at Feld’s stand on this last season and them embracing it now, they’ve mostly been upfront with their confusion last year and they admitted that they erred on the side of caution when it came to displaying CBD logos on TV and in the pits.
On the bright side of things there is clarity now with this and possible new revenue streams opened up for the sport which is a good thing. It just took a little bit to get here I guess.
By Steve Matthes @pulpmx
Photos by Cudby/Husqvarna & James Lissimore @lissimorephoto