This summer, the Denver City Council is putting forward the effort to limit unattractive and bothersome sign spinners as well as other outdoor advertising for medical marijuana.
It is always preferred that an industry polices and controls itself, but if the government must get involved, it is always favored that guidelines and regulations are set verses a complete citywide ban.
As of today, it seems councilmembers will consider two possibilities. Councilwoman Debbie Ortega's proposal would ban outdoor advertising for dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools, child-care centers, parks and recreation centers. However, this proposal is not enough for councilman Chris Herndon. He is pushing push for a total ban on outdoor advertising for dispensaries.
Herndon will present his proposal to a committee on Aug. 1st and a final decision is expected Aug. 20. Ortega's proposal is modeled after federal tobacco-advertising laws. Her aim, she said, is to protect young people.
State records show that only 42 of the nearly 100,000 registered medical marijuana users are minors. Even though kids are not hurrying to get their red cards, it is apparent that advertisements in and near schools could send the unwanted message that pot, like alcohol and cigarettes is "legal" when you become of-age.
The issue with sign spinners comes down to supply and demand. As of April 30th, the Denver metro area had 56,000 patients with valid red cards. There are 219 dispensaries in Denver alone competing for cardholders' business. The demand has lessened, and the supply is still bountiful. Tough odds for dispensary owners.
A citywide outdoor advertising ban was originally proposed by The Medical Marijuana Industry Group, a trade association that counts more than 50 dispensaries as members. Their intent was to clean up and further legitimize the industry by limiting sales to "non-qualifying patients." Whatever their motives are, I feel they have good intentions. Obtaining a red card and using medical marijuana should be reserved to those that require medical marijuana to aid with justifiable health issues and should be prescribed by a legitimate health care professional.
But in this instance, banning the advertisement of medical marijuana is in direct conflict First Amendment -- Freedom of Speech. With the amount of regulations passed since medical marijuana became legal in Colorado, it looks like some sort of outdoor advertising ban is probable. Hopefully the ban ads limits to advertising instead of banning it all together which would lump medical marijuana in with regulations for alcohol and tobacco advertisements.