Although children are not permitted to use marijuana in legal states, one youngster in Portland, Oregon has made it his mission to persuade state lawmakers to impose stricter regulations on marijuana advertising.
14-year-old Eddie Herzig believes that marijuana should not be schlepped on billboards and banners in locations where they may be more likely to influence children. Although the young man understands there is no evidence that pot advertisements contribute to higher rates of minor pot consumption, he believes more kids are starting to take notice of “big, flashy, colorful billboards” promoting the herb a bit too soon.
"These are things that are made to attract attention," Herzig told KATU. "It's attracting the attention of kids too."
Herzig said he was first inspired last year after his sister began asking their dad about the pot advertisements showing up in areas of downtown Portland. He said ads for legal marijuana are not something that younger kids, like his sister, are prepared to experience.
"That's not something that she needs to be exposed to quite yet," he said. "If she is seeing it, I'm trying to imagine who else has also seen it, or even being persuaded by it at a younger age."
It is for this reason that Herzig wants legal marijuana to be held to the same standards as the tobacco industry. He wants tighter restrictions on the locations where advertisements can be displayed, as well as limits on the types of designs that can be used.
"You can't do billboard advertising on cigarettes," Herzig explained. "So, why should we be allowing it for cannabis products?"
However, there are already laws in place prohibiting marijuana advertising in certain areas, especially ones where children frequently roam. Oregon law does not allow dispensaries to advertise within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, childcare centers, libraries, or even public parks. Most states that have legalized marijuana adhere to similar policies.
Furthermore, studies have shown that alcohol is more likely to be a gateway drug than marijuana. Yet booze remains a prevalent part of American pop culture, with advertising turning up in family friendly spots all over the country from restaurants to sporting events.
“With frequent advertising, kids think it is okay to use cannabis. THIS MUST STOP. Cannabis products should have their advertising controlled in the same manner as cigarettes. Tell Oregon lawmakers to regulate the advertising of cannabis products,” Herzig’s petition reads.
Once Herzig collects the necessary 100 signatures, the proposal will be delivered to state lawmakers for consideration.