On January 21, 2021, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”) issued a notification that on January 11th the Superior Court in San Louis Obispo held that Section 5040(b)(3) of the Bureau’s regulation is invalid. Section 5040(b)(3) allowed advertisements along any interstate highway or state highway, except for the 15-mile radius from California borders. This section stemmed from Proposition 64, which states: “A licensee shall not do any of the following: advertise or market on a billboard or similar advertising device located on an interstate highway or on a state highway which crosses the California boarder.”
The Court found BCC’s 15-mile radius interpretation too broad and held that the Prop. 64 statute prohibits advertising on a billboard or similar advertising device located on any part of a highway that crosses any California border. In response to the court’s holding, BCC advised licensees to remove current advertisements and began prohibiting any new advertisements to be placed along any highway that crosses the California boarder, which includes Interstate 5, Interstate 80, and U.S. Highway 101. Yet, the notification does not include a deadline for the billboard removal before it takes any potential enforcement action. We recommend that licensees who advertise through the now prohibited billboards immediately review their billboard contracts and contact their applicable advertising vendors to work out ways to remove prohibited billboards.
Notably, a week after the court ruling, California Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin introduced a bill addressing this issue. The bill would amend the Prop. 64 statute to state that “[a] licensee shall not do any of the following: advertise or market on a billboard or similar advertising devise visible from an interstate highway or on a state highway within California.” The bill would expand the new prohibition even further by including all highways, not just those that cross state borders, and would prohibit advertisements that are simply “visible” from any highway, rather than just located by a highway.
If you need any assistance or have questions about how to comply with the change in advertising regulations for your cannabis business, please reach out to Emerge Law Group.