California legalized recreational marijuana in November, opening up a completely legal weed market in a state that already had the most relaxed medical marijuana rules in the country. That legal standing is marked clearest on California’s extensive highways, where billboards for weed products and dispensaries line thoroughfares throughout the state.
But according to the OC Register, the stoner billboards might not last long, as a new bill introduced by California legislators hopes to remove marijuana-themed advertisements from Cali’s more than 15,000 miles of highway. Assembly Bill 64 - named not-so-curiously close to Proposition 64 that legalized recreational adult use - would amend the proposition to make marijuana advertising rules more strict.
AB 64 aims to keep kids safe from advertising that may influence them to smoke pot. When California legalized recreational use, they raised the legal marijuana consumption age from 18 (under previous medical laws) to 21. AB 64 proponents say that their bill is just another precaution to make sure that age limit is enforced.
“We have legal adult use and medical use, and we want to make sure that advertising hits the target audience as much as possible and doesn’t slip beyond that,” California Assemblyman Rob Bonta told the Sacramento Bee. “We want to target adults and patients and not the broader audience that includes kids and carpools and school buses and families.”
California lawmakers also worry that, while the state sorts out recreational use regulations, advertisements are popping up from companies trying to secure a foothold in the market even before they get state-mandated licenses.
Because it amends an existing state law, AB 64 will need two thirds of the vote in the state house. In addition to banning highway billboards, it would create a separate licensing system for non-storefront cannabis delivery businesses.
With Democratic sponsors like Bonta, and new rules based on youth morality - which we know republicans love - all signs point to AB 64 passing and cannabis billboards disappearing from California’s highways.