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Bongs, Blunts, and Billboards: Can You Target Cars With Cannabiz Ads?

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on January 03, 2017 11:01 AM

Pot entrepreneurs nationwide have been cheering recent victories, with more and more states legalizing recreational and medical marijuana. But relaxed weed regulations don't always mean an open market on advertising. State and federal law may limit the kind of ads marijuana businesses can run, and whom they may target.

One dicey area is highway pot ads and billboards, and California lawmakers are trying to constrict cannabiz coverage along their inter- and intrastate highways. Here's a look:

Blowing Billboard Smoke

You may have noticed that the Golden State just legalized recreational marijuana after having a mess of medical marijuana laws in place. As it stands, Proposition 64 prohibits pot billboards for along some 4,000 miles of highways that cross state borders. But a new law is looking to ban billboard ads for any marijuana products or services from all 265 state highways, and close a loophole that would exempt unlicensed pot shops from advertising restrictions.

"Without AB 64, this exception would eclipse the rule and our children would see cannabis ads across the state," Assemblyman Rob Bonta told the Los Angeles Times. "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."

Hawking Your Weed Wares

Advertising laws can vary by state, and also by what you are advertising. Even ads for similar products may be regulated differently depending on where you do business. When Oregon legalized it last year, their guidelines only said advertisers "should take steps to prevent promoting products in a manner that's directed at children and adolescents." And federal authorities threw up a competing ad in Denver, Colorado, a "$35,100 billboard resembling a cross between a giant joint and a mangled car in downtown" to warn drivers about the dangers of weed use.

So before you invest your advertising budget into roadside pot photos, make sure you consult local and federal legislation on cannabis commercials.

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