Should the City of Denver ban outdoor medical marijuana ads? That's the question that Denver City Council is set to debate Monday evening during a public hearing.
The council's Debbie Ortega and Christopher Herndon are behind the proposal which is an expansion of a May proposal by Ortega that called for a ban on medical marijuana ads within 1,000 feet of schools, daycares and parks after she received complaints from constituents, Westword reports. Ortega and Herndon's full outdoor ad ban, which includes a ban on "billboard, bus-bench and sidewalk sign-twirler advertising," found support with what might seem an unlikely ally -- the Medical Marijuana Industry Group -- a group which pushed for a citywide ban.
Mike Elliot, the executive director of the MMIG, told The Denver Post that the citywide ad ban addresses one of the top complaints about dispensaries -- namely, their gaudy, overblown advertising. "Because we want to be good community members we can make reasonable concessions that satisfy community concerns." Elliot said.
Elliot told Westword in June that, "Such advertisements unite opposition to medical marijuana, undermine our support, and are largely responsible for the banning of MMJ businesses in Fort Collins and other jurisdictions."
Kush Magazine reported in June that the often loud, over-the-top advertising by medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver has to do with trying to stand out in an overcrowded marketplace -- there are approximately 200 dispensaries in Denver alone competing for more than 50,000 valid patients. Pot industry magazine The Medical Marijuana Business Daily says that the ban could force dispensaries to market themselves in more traditional ways making it harder to stand out and much harder to attract local passersby with a showy billboard or sign twirler. But perhaps that's not all bad when the signage the the proposed ban addresses has created some backlash.
In June, Councilman Herndon agreed with MMIG saying, "I want to further legitimize this industry and to do that I think it's important for people to understand that this is for medical purposes -- and when you see signage or the spinners, it gives the impression that it's more than medical," according to Westword.
However, another medical marijuana advocacy group, the Cannabis Business Alliance, is fighting against the full ban. The CBA, once a supporter of Ortega's original proposal to ban ads within 1,000 feet of schools and parks, now says that the terms of this full ban are not clear enough with regard to outside marketing that falls outside of bus-benches, billboards and twirlers like festivals and street fairs or even merchandise. Kush Magazine goes further that that saying that a ban of this nature is a violation of the First Amendment.
What do you think? Is outdoor medical marijuana advertising an eyesore you'd like to see removed from Denver? Is it a matter of free speech that regardless of gaudiness, is a right that should be protected? Vote in our poll and tell us your thoughts below.