Get Your Billboard Off My Street!
Denver has fallen into the national spotlight yet again with people from medical marijuana communities all across the country keeping a close eye on the recently passed marketing ordinance, which bans all outdoor medical marijuana advertisements. The marketing ban focuses on the sign-twirlers, billboards, and pamphlets that have been bombarding the Denver community in recent years.
Debates have sprouted up all around the country about the severity of the ban and the rights that a legally established company has to advertise their product. With industry advocates on both sides of the argument the debate is sure to continue. Whether you feel the ban goes too far or if you feel it does not go far enough, it is certain that the outcome will redefine marketing tactics in the medical marijuana community.
Setting An Example
The marketing ban was proposed by co-sponsors City Council at Large Representative Deborah Ortega and District 11 Representative Chris Herndon. The ordinance passed unanimously Monday night, August 20th causing quite a stir amongst groups such as the Colorado Cannabis Alliance who offered numerous testimonies stating that the ordinance was too vague and went too far; Kush Magazine recently stated that they believe the ordinance is a violation of the first amendment.
The topic received national press coverage almost immediately due to the upcoming vote on amendment 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana use. If passed, marijuana would be regulated in the same fashion as alcohol and would only be available for legal use by individuals over the age of 21.
As debates continue to surface about the potential revenue streams from the legalization of recreational use as well as the possible negative effects caused by the presence of marijuana advertisements around children it is important that both communities be willing to compromise. According to Councilwoman Ortega that was the case during the process of refining this ordinance. Advocates in favor of comprehensive regulations for medicinal marijuana, The Medical Marijuana Industry Group (MMIG) actively pushed for the ban stating that they believe the ban is a move in the right direction.
It’s All About Compromise
The marketing ban was originally drafted to apply only in areas that fell within 1000 feet of schools but has since changed to include the entire city. Medical Marijuana Dispensaries are still allowed to advertise through print, radio, television and online outlets though any advertisements must include a disclaimer clearly indicating that the product is intended for use by medical marijuana patients only.
When we spoke with Councilwoman Ortega she shared with us her concern about the children in the community being bombarded with colorful advertisements for MMJ dispensaries. Many feel the ordinance is unfair and should include liquor stores that are located near schools as well. When asked Councilwoman Ortega stated that marijuana is still illegal and liquor is not as a result we must protect the children from being presented with advertisements for medical marijuana though she did not feel a need to take action against liquor store advertisements at this time.
Michael Elliot, the executive director of MMIG provided an extensive quote to the Huffington Post in which he touched on the difference in treatment that the MMJ industry experiences stating, “While we look forward to the day where medical marijuana businesses are offered the same protections as other businesses, we are willing to remain patient and flexible. It is important to remember that Colorado is on the cutting edge of this issue nationally. MMIG will continue to support reasonable regulations that address community concerns and protect the freedom of Colorado’s citizens.”.
Mr. Elliot also addressed the concerns of industry members who feel the ban goes too far, “While we remain sympathetic to critics who question the need for additional regulations, MMIG is committed to pushing for a comprehensive regulatory framework. Some may argue that when compared to other industries, medical marijuana has been over-regulated. However, for better or worse, we are participants in a young, dynamic, and scrutinized industry. If we are to survive the attacks from without, oversight and regulation must be promulgated and supported from within. “
Like It Or Not It’s The Law!
When asked whether the ordinance would be affected if amendment 64 was passed in November Councilwoman Ortega replied the ordinance may be reviewed at that time. Until then, the Denver medical marijuana community will adapt to the exclusion of outdoor marketing devices while the nation watches.
The debate rages on with both sides presenting valid arguments though it is clear the need for compromise is becoming a priority. As the MMJ community continues to compromise with city officials the dream of legalization is coming closer to fruition.