Newsom vetoes a bill that would have allowed cannabis advertising on highway billboards

Gavin Newsom on Friday opposed legislation that would have allowed cannabis products to be advertised on highway billboards in much of California, a bill that sought to overturn a November court order that banned signs.

The bill would have allowed marijuana ads on billboards along interstate highways and state highways that cross state lines, except within 15 miles of another state.

“When voters passed Proposition 64, they enacted robust safeguards that protect young people from exposure to cannabis and cannabis advertisements,” Newsom said in a veto letter. “Among other things, voters have completely banned billboard-based cannabis advertising on all interstate highways, and on all state highways that cross the California border. Allowing advertising on these high-traffic roads may expose young commuters to cannabis advertising.”

Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Union City) said his bill was needed to help the state’s legal cannabis industry, which has struggled in the face of high taxes and bans on cannabis stores by most cities.

“We haven’t done enough to help the legal cannabis industry thrive,” Quirk said. “The legal cannabis industry has a very limited and narrow set of marketing avenues available to them. Removing their ability to promote their legitimate business along hundreds of miles of roads does nothing but help the illicit market.”

A judge ruled in November that California officials exceeded their authority when they allowed commercial cannabis companies to advertise on billboards along interstate highways in violation of Suggestion 64, the legalization initiative approved by California voters in 2016.

State officials interpreted Proposition 64 banning advertisements on interstate highways to mean that they could ban billboards within a 15-mile radius of the state border while allowing them elsewhere.

The state’s Office of Cannabis Control decided that allowing billboards, except within 15 miles of the border, “meets the intent of Proposition 64” and also “provided a guarantee that licensees, including those in jurisdictions along the California border, would still have an opportunity to advertise their operations.” The commercialization of cannabis and its marketing within the limits of the radius.”

However, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Ginger E. Garrett ruled that Proposition 64, because it was approved by voters, It cannot be modified by the state office through a slate.

The ruling forced the state to direct cannabis companies to remove their advertising from billboards in areas that include 4,315 miles of interstate highways, including the 5th and 80th, and state highways that cross state lines.

Attorney Sarro Rizzo filed the lawsuit on behalf of a San Luis Obispo father of two who believed Proposition 64 would ban highway advertising that teens could see. Rizzo said the bill is improper because the state constitution requires changes to be made to initiatives for a people’s vote unless the ballot measure provides for a legislative amendment, which Proposition 64 did not.

“It unconstitutionally seeks to amend Proposition 64 in a way that is contrary to the intent and purpose of the law because it strips Prop. 64’s mandate to impose a blanket ban on those highways,” Rizzo said of the legislation.

Rizzo noted that Newsom was instrumental in putting Proposition 64 on the ballot paper and was the high-ranking politician who endorsed the initiative.

“Needless to say, he was, and still is, well aware of Prop. 64’s ban on billboard marijuana advertising,” Rizzo said.

Citing the initiative’s proponents of the ballot argument, which appears in the official voter’s guide, the attorney said that Proposition 64 “contains the nation’s strictest child protections: warning labels, child-resistant packaging, advertising restrictions, and requires marijuana to be kept out for public viewing, away from children.” “.

Rizzo had called on the governor to veto the new legislation “in order to stay true to your own words and support the will of voters,” and to “prioritize children’s health and safety over corporate profits from cannabis.”

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