Go to a California cannabis event and you’re likely to walk away with a free hat—or a bumper sticker, or a t-shirt, or tote bag emblazoned with a cannabis company’s logo. But under a bill being considered in the state Legislature, all that branded merchandise would go up in smoke.
Senate Bill 162, by state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), would prohibit state-licensed cannabis businesses from advertising “through the use of branded merchandise, including, but not limited to, clothing, hats, or other merchandise with the name or logo of the product.” It’s a measure aimed at reducing children’s exposure to cannabis ads, but some in the industry say it amounts to legislative overreach and could end up doing more harm than good.
Last month the Senate passed the measure unanimously, 40–0, and it’s now parked in an Assembly committee.
Advertising has been a thorny issue as the Golden State works to bring its multibillion-dollar cannabis industry out of the shadows and into a legal, regulated marketplace. Concerns over advertisements that might appeal to minors have already led to restrictions on the use of certain music, language, shapes, cartoon characters, and other content known to capture kids’ attention.
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