SACRAMENTO—California Senate Bill 162 on Thursday was placed in suspense, awaiting review by the California State Assembly Appropriations committee. If passed through by Appropriations, the bill would then go on to be voted on in the House.
SB 162, authored by state Senator Ben Allen (D-26th District), would restrict cannabis industry advertising and marketing of promotional merchandise; according to the bill’s language, “A licensee shall not advertise 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 also prohibits billboard advertising, “misleading” advertising, and any cannabis advertising within 1,000 feet of a daycare, grade school, playground, or youth center.
SB 162 prohibits advertising marketed to children or minors, which bill proponents have stated is their primary concern, while drawing parallels between similar regulations placed on tobacco (and liquor) advertising.
“There’s no reason why all of a sudden we should put less restrictions on this product [marijuana] versus a product that we’ve regulated [tobacco] for a long time but that has been legal,” Senator Allen told The Recorder.
In an interview for the same post, Evoke Law associate Nicole Syzdek said, “We are in no way trying to facilitate the access of minors [to marijuana]. We would just like regulations that make sense. The way that they’ve done this doesn’t make any sense for the industry.”
Points on which the bill is unclear, according to Evoke, include whether or not cannabis-related promotional merchandise (i.e. vape pens, grinders, rolling papers, etc.) would be banned, despite not being readily available to the public or minors, as well as whether third-part vendors could sell cannabis-branded merchandise, under a licensing agreement.
As California’s countdown to legal adult-use ticks closer to January 2018, lawmakers have introduced close to fifty bills related to cannabis industry regulation, including SB 162. Some others include:
- SB 175—Would prohibit “misleading” marketing and advertising; specifically, misstating the county of origin, where the cannabis was grown.
- Assembly Bill 702—Would make it a chargeable offense, if arrested for driving under the influence of cannabis, to refuse a chemical test.
- AB 420—Would amend Personal Income Tax Law to allow cannabis businesses to deduct business expenses, in “nonconformity” with federal laws, which prohibit this for businesses that traffic in “controlled substances.”
Advertising Specialty Institute’s blog also pointed out that existing California law also prohibits cannabis advertising to appear on broadcast, cable, radio, print, and digital communications where less than 71.6 percent of the audience can be expected to be 21-years old, similar to other adult-use only products.