Cannabis billboards are appearing along the highways and byways in Michigan, most likely to the delight of the state’s several million adults who voted to legalize the plant in Nov. 2018 by an indisputable 56-44 margin.
That being said, some state lawmakers are trying to pull them down, although the billboards are regulated and have all been approved by the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA), which makes sure their content does not come across too, well, stoned. In fact, no photos of cannabis products can be displayed on the billboards across Michigan, home state of Benzinga.
Dispensary owners are miffed. They say they need the publicity more than ever and are willing to pay for it.
“I would say probably 50-60% of our budget right now is on billboards. That’s probably one of the biggest and easiest ways for us to advertise right now,” declared Tom Farrell, founder of Kalamazoo-based dispensary, The Refinery.
Farrell told a local CBS News channel that Michigan pot shops have been forced into advertising on billboards because of tough regulation for ads on nearly every other platform, including social media.
“It would affect us quite a bit,” Farrell said. “I mean, it would take away probably one of our biggest forms of communications to our customers.”
Current law states that marijuana products cannot be advertised unless the business advertising them has evidence that 70% of the audience for the advertisement is made up of adults.
No one is quite sure how that would work, though MRA executive director Andrew Brisbo tried. “They have to get trusted data and be able to demonstrate that to us, so they have to supply their demographic studies to show that the target audience will be who’s viewing this advertising,” Brisbo said.
History Repeats Itself? Not Quite
In April 1970, President Richard Nixon signed legislation banning cigarette ads on television