California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill Oct. 8 that would have allowed cannabis businesses to advertise on highway billboards.
Lawmakers introduced the legislation following a judge’s November 2020 ruling that cannabis billboards are illegal under California’s Prop. 64, and that state regulators exceeded their authority by allowing cannabis businesses to advertise on billboards along California’s interstate highways, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) then announced new rules for the advertisements that allowed cannabis billboards to remain on highways that are entirely within California’s borders. The regulations prohibited cannabis businesses from placing billboard advertisements on any interstate highway that crosses the state’s border, however.
Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Union City) then introduced the legislation to allow these advertisements in an effort to help California’s legal cannabis industry, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“We have not done enough to help the legal cannabis industry thrive,” Quirk told the news outlet. “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 roadway does nothing but help the illicit market.”
In his veto message, Newsom cited concerns about protecting minors from cannabis advertisements.
“When the voters passed Proposition 64, they enacted robust protections shielding youth from exposure to cannabis and cannabis advertising,” Newsom said. “Among other things, voters completely prohibited billboard-based cannabis advertising on all Interstate Highways, and on all State Highways that cross the California border. Allowing advertising on these high-traffic thoroughfares could expose young passengers to cannabis advertising."