Medical marijuana advertising: Citywide ban more fair, councilwoman says

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Last week, Cannabis Business Alliance's Shawn Coleman argued that accepting a medical marijuana advertising ban near schools, parks, daycares and rec centers might find off citywide prohibition.

But one councilwoman is leaning toward a more sweeping policy.

Councilman Christopher Herndon has talked about sponsoring an ordinance that would nix medical marijuana advertising in Denver. His colleague, Jeanne Faatz, sees merit in the notion despite a certain reluctance to venture into this area.

"As much as I dislike the idea of coming in and legislating in the arena of advertising or anything of that nature, we're dealing with a product that, by federal law, is illegal," she says. "So I do not see any public good in these large, outdoor displays, nor the little sign twirlers who distract traffic -- and all for a product that only about a percent and a half of people here can buy.

jeanne faatz.jpg
Jeanne Faatz.
"Our attorney mentioned one billboard that said 'Amsterdam, X-miles that way, a dispensary right here' -- and that's not a message with a medical implication."

Councilwoman Debbie Ortega's proposal to ban advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and the aforementioned locations is intended to keep such displays from the view of children. In Faatz's opinion, though, "children can see much more than from within 1,000 feet of schools. So for it to be effective, it might as well be citywide."

There's also the question of equity. "I like the idea of doing it more broadly so that you're not giving economic advantage to one dispensary over another just because of their proximity to a park," she maintains. "I don't think the government should be in the business of picking winners and losers. Heaven knows there aren't many cities that were even willing to go as far as we were to allow the industry to come in and work with them. And we want to be sure to establish the right tone and not play favorites."

Faatz emphasizes that she hasn't definitively made up her mind on the issue -- "I'm still grappling with it," she says -- and expresses her fondness for self-regulation.

"It makes no sense for them to be aggravating neighbors by encouraging more people to buy this than are legally qualified to do so," she allows. "It sends extremely mixed messages. I respect the people within the industry who are trying to say, 'This is a legitimate medical product that helps some individuals who are in dire straits' -- so we need to be sure they can advertise to those individuals, not the general population. But sign twirlers seem to have cropped up everywhere, and to me, that isn't about medical need."

At this point, Faatz hasn't been overwhelmed with complaints about the advertising, although she points out that her district boasts fewer medical marijuana centers than some in the city. But she also feels many of the advertisers "are doing themselves more harm than good in the eyes of the general public, who gave them permission to do this in the first place. They need to be respectful of that."

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More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana ad regs a way for industry to show it's responsible, advocate says."


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10 comments
Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

"The city isn't shitting down centers ..." Right, they're just pissing on them.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

We're very pro-rant around here, Ice Pick. Thanks for the post.

BOYCOTT ALL DISPENSARIES
BOYCOTT ALL DISPENSARIES

Yes, the "industry" is a joke. Just got an email from another of the big "trade groups" (ACT). Their big topic of discussion this week is a panel on "Marketing Your Business Responsibly". LOL! While patients are getting screwed the mmj businesses are only concerned with getting more business through "responsible" marketing, whatever that is. ATTENTION PATIENTS: You still have one vote - Your dollar$. BOYCOTT ALL DISPENSARIES until they finally stand up for patient rights.

Ice Pick
Ice Pick

Thank you William.  As far as Denver is concerned I'm sure Tom's interpretation is the one that matters, but the code still needs to be revised else by the law these facilities appear to be illegal on July 1, 2012.  Further as a City employee I'm not sure Tom has the ability to provide any legal interpretation of the law, he can only tell you what he intends to do; not that doing so is a violation of the written code.  In order for these facilities to remain in compliance with City law they need to pay their city fee and the city needs to (essentially) add the wording that "facilities who met all the requirements to operate july 1, aug 1, sept 1, 2010 will be allowed to continue to operate".  At this time the law does NOT say that.  They allow current centers to operate but all licenses are set to expire and I do not believe Mr  Downey has the authority to extend that timeframe without a vote by the council. Contact the state and ask them what their interpretation of the city law is, because I'm fairly well convinced that the state is reading the code the same as I.  Specifically try to get clarification from John Seckman if he'll speak with you.  Unless/until the city changes the actual wording I think there remains a major problem.  I think the state will be forced to take an action that may not be welcome by the city or MMC owners.  But, honestly, I am not a lawyer.    I don't know if John Walsh will speak with you but I would bet $100 that he is reading the law the same as I am and he can argue that these facilities are not compliant with the law, as written.  (Maybe you don't want to tell him... I don't know... maybe he reads westword). The second finding with Tom that the "city will not be allowing any *new* shops to open" is a story in itself based on your recognition that the system is still behind 500 dispensaries and countless opcs and mips.  The implication of that is new applicants will likely not be able to operate for 24+ months.  On this issue, again I'd  say try to get with John Seckman at MMED, verify that the state expects to be caught up with their process shortly but with the city delays new centers could be years away.  (It would also be interesting to get the MMED's position on record as to whether or not they will process new applications in other localities or if they need to await Denver before taking on new applications for non-Denver locations). Thank you for taking the time to read my rant, I hope you found it useful.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

The only thing you've made crystal clear is the unfathomable depth of your ignorance.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

You'd have been better off getting a real Rx from an Oxy Pill Mill Doctor. No registration or red card from CDPHE No MMCED goons No database sharing with Cops No MMIG / Pot Clowns subverting your rights at every opportunity No medical privacy invasions No arbitrary termination from employment No Per-se DUI limits No lawyers needed.

William Breathes
William Breathes

Ice Pick, Thanks for the post and bringing this up. I happened to speak with the director of excise and licensing with the City of Denver, Tom Downey, earlier today. He said that your interpretation is incorrect. According to Downey, the city will allow MMCs, MIPS and OPCS that are currently in the application process to remain open after July 1. He pointed out that because of the way the industry developed before regulations were in place that shops have been allowed to remain open without business licenses through the application process. The July 1 date listed does not apply to those centers because they have been grandfathered into this delayed licensing process. He did note that the city will not be allowing any *new* shops to open after July 1 without first being licensed, however that is the same for any business regardless of the industry.

Ice Pick
Ice Pick

read the code.  read the code.  read the code.  The city (and state) have no choice.  Unless/until the law changes Denver dispensaries who are not 100% in compliance with city and state law MUST shut down on July 1.  It's the law.  

Ice Pick
Ice Pick

Um, I thought I made it clear... I do not work at or own any dispensary.  I am a patient, like you.  And I certainly do not support the MMIG.  If they had any sense they would be working to prevent a massive shutdown on July 1.  Maybe I should start my own group since I (obviously) care more about the dispensary owners than they seem too.

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