Carbondale: Is medical pot marketing too ‘in your face’?
CARBONDALE – What could be viewed as “in-your-face” marketing by some in the medical marijuana business may not be very becoming of an industry trying to gain legitimacy and earn respect, according to some who are looking to regulate medical marijuana facilities locally.
Carbondale’s specially appointed Medical Marijuana Facility Advisory Group addressed the issue in its report to the Town Council on July 27.
“The group expressed dismay at some recent examples of inappropriate advertising and cautions the industry to treat the business and patients with respect and professionalism,” reads one of the group’s recommendations.
Downtown store fronts with windows and signs displaying large marijuana leaves and sale specials, and newspaper advertisements listing exotic strains of cannabis and various edible products, or promoting “happy hour,” are among the examples cited by officials wrestling with just how far they can go to regulate such businesses within their jurisdictions.
“I’d like to see them tone down the advertising, and make it less in your face,” Carbondale Trustee Frosty Merriott said at the July 27 meeting. “My concern is the impact it can have on young people.”
The advisory group went on to point out that there is no regulatory framework to control advertising content, per se, although signage and on-site slogans may be fair game, according to Sherry Caloia, the town’s attorney who has been working with the advisory group.
“It appears we can restrict signage and some advertising, within reasonable limits,” she said. “And I anticipate Carbondale will discuss some limitations on signage. But there are a lot of questions I’m not clear on, such as can we tell them they can’t have a marijuana leaf.”
Some communities have gone so far as to require that the word “medical” accompany the word “marijuana” in all advertising. Others do not allow a marijuana leaf to be part of the signage.
Maintaining some separation between medical marijuana facilities and schools is another area where local jurisdictions have control. While state laws that went into effect July 1 allow a limit of no less than 1,000 feet between medical marijuana facilities, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs appear more inclined to adopt a 500-foot limit, similar to the required distance between liquor stores and schools.
“Whatever we do should mirror what we do with alcohol, which is a far more dangerous drug than medical marijuana,” Merriott said.
At a recent Glenwood Springs City Council meeting where medical marijuana controls were discussed, Council member Russ Arensman said he was conflicted on how to view the business.
“It’s tempting to treat them like liquor stores, but if we’re talking about medical marijuana maybe it should be treated more like a pharmacy,” he said.
Regulatory controls are very different for a pharmacy than they are for liquor stores, he pointed out.
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