GOVERNOR NEWSOM VETOES AB1302
This just in and freshly vetoed by California Governor Newsom, Assembly Bill 1302 which would have allowed cannabis billboard advertisements on most state highways and interstates did not pass. The Governor cited protection of youth as cannabis ads would likely spark some curiosity, thus further making it difficult to even exist in the legal space.
Given the passing of Proposition 64 back in 2016 that legalizes cannabis for the recreational market, a series of protections were placed to limit the exposure of such advertising to minors. Not only does this make marketing more difficult for brands, but it also does nothing to solve the burden placed on dispensaries and other retailers as they battle against the black market that is not liable for the high rates of taxation and bans in many of the California cities.
Many cannabis industry folk blast the state government in that "there is not enough being done to help the legal cannabis industry thrive." The legal cannabis industry has a very limited and narrow set of marketing avenues available to them. Removing the ability to promote their legitimate business alone hundreds of miles of roadway does nothing but to help the illicit market thrive.
And it's not like cannabis ads on billboards is an entirely novel idea, either. While the average attention span of a driver looking at a billboard on their drive into the state averages around 15 seconds, lawmakers further exasperated the situation by outlawing these ads within a 15-mile radius of the state border. Again, it's not like cannabis billboard ads are really that much of a factor in getting people in the door.
We understand where this sort of reluctance to approve advertisements come from. One of the original Proposition 64 protections was to outlaw billboards within 1000-feet of schools, day care centers, public parks, and churches. In fact, many other states also enact this same ruling. Banning billboards on interstate highways, likely leading to the demise of small-town dispensaries that rely on tourist traffic to keep them afloat, however, will likely be that nail in the coffin to closing up shop for good. Again, perpetuating the black market's presence in an already-difficult-to-exist state such as the California legal cannabis market.
Hopefully, wishfully, we hope that California cleans up its act and allows legal cannabis businesses to thrive as we very well took on the task of doing this legitimately from the very beginning. Here's a bowl to hoping!