Law would limit marijuana advertising
April 1, 2016
Steamboat Springs — Newspapers and First Amendment advocates are concerned about a bill moving through the Colorado legislature that would create rules for medical marijuana advertising.
House Bill 1363 would allow for rules to be made that would restrict advertising having a “high likelihood of reaching persons under 18 years of age.”
The Colorado Press Association, or CPA, a trade group that advocates for newspapers, including Steamboat Pilot & Today, takes issue with the bill.
“It’s the basic concept of it’s a violation of commercial speech under the First Amendment,” said Greg Romberg, a lobbyist who does work for CPA.
The bill was introduced at the request of the Colorado Department of Revenue, which is responsible for regulating the marijuana industry. The bill is intended to mirror advertising rules already in place for recreational marijuana. Those rules were recommended by a task force after Amendment 64 was passed and marijuana was legalized.
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Despite protest, the rules were enacted.
Under those rules, a recreational marijuana business cannot advertise in a print publication if more than 30 percent of the readers are under the age of 21.
Westword magazine, in Denver, filed a lawsuit when the recreational marijuana advertising rule was enacted. A court ruled that Westword did not have standing to sue, because Westword is not regulated by the Colorado Department of Revenue. Instead, a recreational marijuana business would have to sue.
House Bill 1363 is scheduled to be heard in the House Finance Committee on April 7.
The specific wording for the medical marijuana rule would be determined if the bill passes. If it mirrors the recreational marijuana advertising rule, it would not affect Steamboat Pilot & Today, because no more than 30 percent of its readership is younger than 21 years old.
Kevin Fisher, co-owner of the Rocky Mountain Remedies marijuana business in Steamboat, said he was supportive of bill.
"It really just harmonizes the medical law with what is in the recreational law," Fisher said.
He said the advertising restrictions were reasonable.
"The last thing we want to do is market to kids," Fisher said.