A new bill proposed by California State Senator Ben Allen would prohibit canna-businesses from advertising their products via branded clothing. Senate Bill 162 would specifically “prohibit medical cannabis and non–medical marijuana licensees from advertising [or] using branded merchandise.” The bill would prevent state cannabis license holders from advertising “medical cannabis or medical cannabis products through the use of branded merchandise, including, but not limited to, clothing, hats, or other merchandise with the name or logo of the product.”
The bill would also limit television advertising to ensure that cannabis products are not being marketed to minors. Television ads for cannabis products would be restricted to times when “71.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older,” and online advertisers would be required to verify that those viewing their ads are 21 or older as well. However, the bill does clarify that it would not interfere with nonprofit or “noncommercial” free speech.
Officials from the American Academy of Pediatrics, California, wrote to Allen to express their support for the bill. They wrote that the bill “would ensure that children and youth are exposed to a minimal amount of marijuana advertising by assuring that no marijuana products could be marketed through branded merchandise. This would help protect children from the dangerous health effects of marijuana use in a manner consistent with tobacco regulations.”
Cannabis advocates have spoken out against the bill, arguing that it will interfere with small businesses. “To ban small businesses from advertising, marketing and branding is ridiculous,” said Adam Spiker, executive director of the Southern California Coalition, the largest canna-business trade group in Los Angeles. “The bill would materially hamstring small business owners’ ability to grow in the land of opportunity. We are firmly against it, and will work to ensure lawmakers are aware of the harmful ramifications it would have.”
“At a time when we are aggressively working to combat the misinformation and damage caused by the outdated Reefer Madness mentality, it would be a misguided mistake to ban cannabis small business owners from advertising and branding,” said Ryan Jennemann, co-founder of California cultivator THC Design. “The proposed legislation would irreversibly harm the responsible efforts being made to re-educate and arm the public with the facts about cannabis, a plant less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. This concrete roadblock would only make it nearly impossible to arm patients with truth and must be stopped.”