A new law has been proposed by Assemblyman Rob Bonta and 4 other lawmakers in the state of California that would ban marijuana related ads from being posted on billboards across state highways. California passed Proposition 64 in November this year which legalized recreational marijuana for adult use. This new proposition, Assembly Bill 64, would amend the recently passed law, requiring tighter restrictions on marijuana marketing. Proposition 64 currently bans all marijuana ads on in state highways that cross the border into California. Bonta’s proposition would expand upon this, banning all marijuana marketing, including medical marijuana marketing, along any interstate or highway in California.
Supporters of Assembly Bill 64
Bonta is not alone in his feelings regarding marijuana marketing. He is joined by Assemblymen Ken Cooley of Rancho Cordova, Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles, Jim Wood of Healdsburg and Tom Lackey of Palmdale. He said on behalf of the group and the bill, “Without AB 64, this exception would eclipse the rule and our children would see cannabis ads across the state. We feel that all highways, and not just ones which cross state lines, are inappropriate venues for cannabis advertising, particularly as Proposition 64 required an adult audience for advertisements other than billboards.”
Tommy Chong and the Fight for Marijuana Marketing Rights
Tommy Chong, who was part of the infamous stoner comedy duo Cheech and Chong, now runs his own marijuana business, ‘Chong’s Choice’. Billboards marketing his brand of marijuana have stood tall on Highway 50, directing westbound passersby to a Sacramento dispensary called the Horizon Collective. He is one of the people upset by the new proposition. He is joined by many other marijuana advocates, including a large number of people in the medical marijuana industry, who are also banned from advertising.
A 2/3 Vote Requirement
Chong celebrated his billboard on social media when it was erected stating, “They said we were outlaws. Now we’re on billboards.” He said of the new proposal, “It’s totally not justified. It’s stupid. It shows you how ignorant they still are. It’s been proven that marijuana is not only harmless, but it’s good for you. So what are they protecting? Who are they protecting?” In order to successfully pass, the law would need a 2/3 vote because it is considered an amendment to Proposition 64. Bonta has explicitly expressed that the main intention of the law is to fortify Proposition 64 and make sure that marijuana ads are not ever seen by minors but only displayed and targeted specifically at adults.
Proposition 64 allows adults over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. Adults may also grow up to 6 plants at home, so long as they are grown discreetly. As far as the plan goes, retail marijuana sales should begin on January 1, 2018 but there is a lot of infrastructure to set in place in order to make this deadline. California has a strong influence on trends in the rest of the country and the world, so many decisions made now may have lasting impact. This decision made regarding billboards is no different.