Buy all that weed merch while you still can. A new bill pending the California state legislature could ban clothing that advertises cannabis brands.
“A licensee shall not advertise medical cannabis or medical cannabis products through the use of branded merchandise, including, but not limited to, hats, clothing, or other merchandise with the name or logo of the product,” states Senate Bill 162, sponsored by Senator Ben Allen from Santa Monica. The bill would apply to medical and non-medical marijuana licensees, but not to nonprofit or “noncommercial” speech.
The bill represents a movement to grapple with the effects of Prop 64, which legalized adult use marijuana in November. The legalization measure had stated intent to “prohibit marketing and advertising of non-medical marijuana to persons younger than 21 years old or near schools or other places where children are present.” Allen’s bill appears to be an attempt at upholding that intention.
“SB 162 (Allen) would ensure that children and youth are exposed to a minimum amount of marijuana advertising by assuring that no marijuana products could be marketed through branded merchandise,” Yasuko Fukuda of the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote to Allen in support of his bill.
The bill would also limit television ads to times when nearly three quarters of the audience is “reasonably expected” to be at least 21. It would apply to publications and websites, as well, while directing advertisers to ensure that their audiences are at least 21.
Of course, not everyone is as pleased with the bill as the American Academy of Pediatrics. “At a time when we are aggressively working to combat the misinformation and damage caused by the outdated Reefer Madness mentality, it would be a misguided mistake to ban cannabis small business owners from advertising and branding,” said Ryan Jennemann, co-founder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 THC Design, a cultivation company. “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.”
Adam Spiker, executive director of the Southern California Coalition, a cannabis business trade group in Los Angeles, also objects to the bill, fearing it would keep small business owners from being able to grow amidst the Green Rush.
While the bill was already approved by the state Senate, it’s now pending the state Assembly. Whatever happens, the spirit of the bill seems to be in discordance with how prolific alcohol and tobacco advertising has been throughout the decades — on merchandise, in commercials, on billboards, and more.