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LA Times Editorial on Cannabis Billboards Cites PHI Programs

An editorial from the Los Angeles Times calling for stricter rules on cannabis billboards quotes Alisa Padon from PHI’s Getting it Right from the Start program and cites recent research on the impact of marijuana marketing on teens from our Alcohol Research Group. 

  • Los Angeles Times
a colorful billboard reading "Cannabis Delivered" (credit: Adam Jones)

Billboards advertising pot broke Prop. 64’s promise. Don’t go back on the pledge to protect teens

Shielding teens from increased exposure to marijuana was a key selling point of the legalization plan California voters approved in 2016. The measure included “toughest-in-the-nation protections for children,” proponents said, by banning cannabis advertising aimed at those under age 21 and restricting where billboards can be placed.

Unfortunately, in the five years since voters passed Proposition 64, it’s been a nonstop game of whack-a-mole to try to keep the pot industry and cannabis regulators faithful to these promises. And success has been mixed.

First, a prominent cannabis website found a loophole in the law and started throwing billboards up alongside major freeways, even though Proposition 64 says licensed marijuana businesses can’t advertise on billboards along interstate highways. How did Weedmaps get away with it? Turns out the $1.5-billion company isn’t a licensed cannabis business — it’s a website that advertises cannabis businesses. So the ban on advertising on interstate highway billboards does not apply.

The cannabis industry argues that advertising is necessary to develop a robust legal marketplace that helps keep weed away from children. State-sanctioned dispensaries, they point out, only sell to adults — unlike black market drug dealers. If legal pot shops can’t advertise to attract more adult customers, the argument goes, they’ll have a hard time competing with the illicit market that many teens already have access to.

But health research supports limiting advertising. Teens who frequently see cannabis billboards and storefront ads are seven times more likely to use the drug weekly and six times as likely to have symptoms of cannabis addiction, compared with teens who never saw the ads, according to research published last year in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Alisa Padon
There is something to seeing the billboards in your community that more effectively, perhaps, normalizes the use of cannabis.

Alisa A. Padon, research scientist, Getting it Right from the Start

Voters bought the argument that Proposition 64 would shield California kids from marijuana advertising. Don’t go back on that promise.

Click below to read the full editorial from the LA Times.


Originally published by LA Times

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