Photograph by PhotoAlto / Katarina Sundelin / Getty Images
As legal weed businesses struggle against the black market, one of their few advertising options could be on the chopping block
Five years after Californians voted overwhelmingly to legalize recreational pot use for adults, the debate rages on—this time over whether the purveyors of legal weed may continue to advertise their wares on billboards along the state’s roadways.
Two Assembly members have introduced dueling bills on the subject, one aimed at moderately restricting where licensed sellers can publicly market cannabis and its accouterments, while the other seeks an outright ban on any marijuana-related ads that can be seen from a California highway.
The ban bill, AB 273, was proposed by Thousand Oaks Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin in January. Although voter-approved Prop 64, which legalized marijuana, includes measures to prevent cannabis advertising from reaching minors, Irwin fears the proliferation of pot billboards will make young people more likely to use the substance.
“This is a very new industry and I don’t think that we should let the advertising get out of hand,” she tells Politico.
Assemblyman Bill Quirk of Hayward introduced the opposing bill, AB 1302, last month. If passed, it would discourage interstate sales—still a big Federal no-no—by making it illegal to place cannabis advertising within 15 miles of a border on highways exiting the state while still allowing it on most California roads.
Quirk already came out as a friend of the industry when he introduced a bill that would make it illegal for most state employers to test job applicants for marijuana. He says that with an estimated 80 percent of all California pot sales being made illegally, overzealous prohibition of advertising counteracts the purpose of Prop 64 by giving illicit dealers a further advantage over marketers who obey the law.
Published: April 01, 2021
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News