When Are Pot Promos OK? That's the Question in Boulder
The ongoing debate about whether or not legal marijuana businesses can advertise their business and how continues. As more and more states legalize recreational marijuana, and with Canada reportedly legalizing cannabis “within months,” the thought of how marijuana businesses will advertise their products or how dispensaries can promote their business is called into question.
New legislation passed in Boulder, Colo., could shed some light on where exactly the line is regarding advertising and marijuana.
The Boulder City Council, no strangers to this type of legislation, as Colorado was among the first states in the U.S. to fully legalize recreational marijuana, unanimously passed a series of rule changes regarding marijuana dispensaries, according to the Daily Camera.
One of these rule changes relates directly to the promotional space. Previously, dispensaries were not allowed to hand out items like stickers and lighters with the company’s logo on them. This new rule brings about the discussion of what kind of promotional products could be simply advertising, and which could be used for something else.
Certainly the general consensus in the promotional space would be that promotional items should serve a purpose, and that the items that end-users hold onto the longest are the ones that accomplish a task or are everyday items (i.e. mugs or lighters.)
The thing is, when it is about marijuana, it becomes a bit tricky. The authorities in Colorado obviously understand that recreational marijuana use is legal now, but there is still the legal obligation to keep it out of the hands of minors. Some think that by giving out items like lighters, it could assist in illegal marijuana usage by kids. Even if a kid throws a sticker on their notebook or bike helmet, it could look like the child was theoretically purchasing or advertising a product they are not legally allowed to purchase or use.
The decision the Boulder council made wasn’t to overturn its original guidelines completely, however. The vote was only to clarify the definition of “promotional items” in order to differentiate between items that have a purpose beyond simply promotion. This is where your lighters and bottle openers would come into play, compared to items like stickers.
The council also maintained that dispensaries could not sell or give away marijuana products for below their true market values. Given that Colorado has been sort of the guinea pig in terms of whether recreational marijuana could work nationwide (populous states like California and Washington are included here, too), it sets somewhat of an informal legal precedent that, if recreational marijuana becomes federally legal, marijuana couldn’t be given away as a promotional product on its own.
That means that the companies in Massachusetts, another state with legal marijuana usage, wouldn’t be able to continue to operate under the loophole that allows them to sell marijuana despite a lack of regulated dispensaries in the state.