By Lauren Mendelsohn
September 12, 2021
Cannabis companies in California would once again be able to advertise on billboards along highways that cross the state line, as long as the ads are at least 15 miles from the border, under a bill recently approved by the state legislature. If the Governor signs or does not veto Assembly Bill 1302, it will go into effect on January 1, 2022. Even if he vetoes it, which is not expected, both houses have already passed the bill by at least a ⅔ majority, meaning the legislature could override a gubernatorial veto.
For some background, the Department of Cannabis Control’s (DCC) predecessor, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), adopted a rule a few years ago that allowed cannabis licensees to advertise along Interstate Highways or State Highways that cross the border provided they were at least 15 miles from the state line. However, the BCC was sued over this in San Luis Obispo County because technically the underlying statute, which was part of the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act of 2016 (AUMA) approved by the voters via Proposition 64, included a blanket ban on cannabis licensees advertising along interstate highways. This ban was codified in Business and Professions Code §26152(d):
“A licensee shall not do any of the following:
(d) Advertise or market on a billboard or similar advertising device located on an Interstate Highway or on a State Highway which crosses the California border.”
The plaintiff in that case was successful and the BCC was forced to rescind the 15-mile-radius rule they had adopted. (You can read our previous coverage of this issue here.)
Hence, if such a rule is wanted, it has to be adopted by the legislature in a manner consistent with Prop. 64, which in this case required a ⅔ vote by both houses of the state legislature. That has happened with Assembly Bill 1302, which amends Business and Professions Code §26152. Thus, 2022 will likely bring a return to legal cannabis billboards throughout the Golden State.
This information is provided as a public service and is not intended as legal advice. For specific questions regarding cannabis laws in California, including advertising laws, contact the Law Offices of Omar Figueroa at 707-829-0215 or email@example.com to schedule a confidential legal consultation.