Marijuana groups backing outdoor ad ban won't disclose membership
Despite the pleas of patients, dispensary owners and infused-product entrepreneurs, Denver City Council members unanimously approved going forward with a ban on all outdoor medical marijuana advertising in the city -- a more draconian measure than the original proposal for a ban near schools, parks and other facilities.
CB12-0586 would prohibit all advertising that can be seen by the public except a dispensary's sign on its building or parking lot. That means posters inside a shop for things like Cheeba Chews would be a no-no if they were visible through a window. The measure also includes leaflets and sign twirlers. Some have argued that the language could go so far as to outlaw dispensary T-shirts and bumper stickers that patrons willingly wear or display.
And although the ban doesn't include print advertising (at least not for now), it would require any such ad to feature the phrase: "For registered Colorado medical marijuana patients only." Read the entire document below.
If you could see this image through a dispensary window, it would be off limits.
Out of the fifteen or so people who commented publicly at Monday's council meeting, most were against the proposal. Representatives from industry groups such as the Cannabis Business Alliance and the Association of Cannabis Trades of Colorado said an outright ban would hurt their members. Several small medical cannabis business owners spoke in opposition to the full ban as well.
Kristi Kelly, owner of Good Meds and an ACT board member, argued that advertising not only helps current patients find meds, but it also normalizes the process for people considering alternative treatments like medical cannabis. "Thousands of patients have yet to find that relief because of this stigma," she argued.
Vocal supporters of the bill included representatives of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7. MMIG, which has led the push to get the measure through City Council, says that a citywide prohibition against outdoor advertising could prove beneficial to the industry.
Proponents say the ads currently target the general population and give the impression that medical cannabis is for everyone, not just registered patients. Here's an excerpt from the bill's language, which MMIG helped to craft: "Medical marijuana advertising that uses the same techniques and media utilized to advertise products and services that are available for sale to the general public is inherently deceptive, because such advertising obfuscates the fact that marijuana is not lawfully available to consumers in the same manner as other products and services are, and creates the false impression that the sale of marijuana may be available for non-medical uses."
Local 7's Mark Belkin favors the ban.
UFCW Local 7 spokesman Mark Belikin spoke before council and said that a negative public perception of marijuana caused by obnoxious advertising in Fort Collins led to that city's banning medical marijuana businesses altogether.
In public remarks, MMIG and UFCW Local 7 representatives said they were speaking on behalf of their members. Westword asked both for a membership list, but both declined to provide one.
Page down to learn why MMIG and Local 7 wouldn't disclose their membership.