California may have legalized recreational cannabis, but questions carry on over how “in-your-face” the public messaging should be. State legislature rows are brewing over splashy marijuana business billboards that have been erected across the state. As our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers can explain, such advertising is considered essential by industry insiders who rightfully point note the legal market is barely treading water. Opponents, however, argue that such ads incentivize a potentially harmful substance to impressionable youth.
Assembly Democrats have introduced two competing bills that would allow for two very different approaches to public advertising of cannabis businesses and their products. The more restrictive CA AB 273(21R) would prohibit any cannabis-related billboard from being visible from a highway. The other, CA AB 1302 (21R) would allow billboard advertising of cannabis companies along most thoroughfares in the state, but it would discourage sales interstate, which is still unlawful at the federal level, by banning marijuana billboard ads within 15 miles of any highway border into another state.
Although advertising may seem like a minor detail, the reality is some of these nuances could have a significant impact on the legal cannabis market in the state. Consider that the biggest tech companies – Google, Facebook, and YouTube – effectively ban cannabis marketing to online consumers. That means outdoor advertising is crucial for the marijuana industry. Prohibition that unreasonably restricts content and placement is going to further impede any business’s ability to effectively compete against other providers, particularly in markets teeming with unlicensed businesses that sell cheaper products because they are uninhibited by taxes, regulatory fees, compliance testing, etc. Continue reading