Canndescent drew inspiration from such luxury brands as Tiffany’s, Hermes and Apple in designing a line of cannabis products whose elegant packaging wouldn’t look out of place on the shelves of Neiman Marcus.
But the California cultivator might not be able to emblazon its name or Chanel-influenced flower logo on T-shirts, hats or other items if the state’s legislature approves a bill that would ban the use of branded merchandise to promote pot products.
The measure is one of several initiatives moving through the California legislature that are intended to keep cannabis out of the hands of children, after the state’s voters overwhelmingly opted last fall to legalize adult recreational use. These bills would impose restrictions on the marketing, labeling and even the shape of pot products, in hopes of reducing its allure for those under 21.
“This is all about making sure, in the context of the legalization of marijuana, that you don’t end up inadvertently leading so many of our young people into drug abuse,” says the bill’s author, California state Sen. Ben Allen, a Democrat representing Hollywood. “This is about protecting kids.”
A final vote on the branded merchandise ban is expected before the legislature recesses on Sept. 15. If approved, sources within the cannabis industry say it is likely to face a legal challenge as a measure that’s both overbroad and places an unfair restriction of free speech rights.
Companies use promotional items like T-shirts – or, in the case of Canndescent, a branded jeweler’s loupe – to do more than boost sales. It’s a tool for shaking off the industry’s outdated, stoner image, and changing public perception.
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