Suit challenges cannabis bureau over marijuana billboards

October 9, 2019

By KAREN VELIE

A San Luis Obispo man with two teenagers is suing the California Bureau of Cannabis Control over marijuana business billboards that he says were banned under Proposition 64, the voter initiative that legalized and regulates cannabis. [Cal Coast Times]

Matthew Farmer, a licensed general contractor, brought suit in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. San Luis Obispo attorneys Saro Rizzo and Stewart Jenkins represent Farmer.

California’s Business and Professions Code 26152(d) says that licensed marijuana businesses shall not “advertise or market on a billboard or similar advertising device located on an Interstate Highway or on a State Highway which crosses the California border.” The Bureau interpreted California’s law regulating state licensed marijuana businesses to mean that billboards could be used to advertise marijuana businesses on interstate highways as long as they were not within 15 miles of the border.

“No billboards means no billboards,” the suit contends. “This blanket prohibition was presented to the voters and 7,979,041 of them voted for it believing that this would be the law and that their will would not be subsequently eviscerated by a small group of unelected bureaucrats.”

The bureau created Regulation 5040(b)(3), that went into effect on Jan. 16, 2019, permitting the billboard advertising.

“The bureau determined that a 15-mile radius was a necessary and appropriate distance from the California border because it satisfies the intent of section 26152(d) of the Business and Professions Code, while assuring that bureau licensees have an opportunity to advertise and market along Interstate and State Highways if they satisfy the identified radius limitations” according to bureau staff.

Rizzo and Jenkins acknowledge in their suit that state law permits the bureau to make and prescribe reasonable rules and regulations necessary to implement, administer, and enforce state laws. But the rules and regulations must be consistent with the purposes and intent of Proposition 64 and state statutes, the lawsuit says.

“What adopting the regulation did do was substantially change and undermine the statute’s impact in a manner that is inconsistent with the voters’ intent in violation of the Business and Professions Code,” the civil complaint says.

Farmer voted in favor of proposition 64, according to the suit.

“These billboards are and will continue to unnecessarily expose himself and millions of people, including hundreds of thousands of minors, throughout the state to cannabis advertising on a daily basis contradictory to the intent and purpose of Proposition 64,” the lawsuit says.

In his suit, Farmer points to a Perfect Union billboard on Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo County as an example of a marijuana business relying on the bureau’s faulty interpretation of the California Code.

The lawsuit asks the court to void the bureau’s regulation allowing advertising on interstate highways, require the bureau to inform all cannabis businesses that the regulation has been vacated, and pay all costs related to the suit.


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MrYan

Unless Hwy 41 is paved out into the sea it would not cross a border, so this billboard is legal within the letter of the law.


It is a straightforward passage. Re-read it above.


citizensoldier

This is why the issue is now in court.


MrYan

And it will be summarily dismissed when running smack into a very clear statue.


Frivolous lawsuits get court dates all the time. What’s your point? Are you hoping for judicial activism?


A judge can’t make an intra-state highway an interstate highway by edict, or change the language of the law to cover just this particular intra-state highway.


Morro Bay can pass it’s own law, for this particular patch of road, if it so chooses.


The state reg in question does not apply here. Don’t waste the court’s time.


citizensoldier

I detest “judicial activism.” That said, every citizen is entitled to have their day in court.


My guess is that the plaintiffs seek to bring attention to what they think, feel and believe is a deficiency in the law as it stands now.


A law, statute, or regulation enacted by a municipal Corporation is an ordinance. An ordinance is a law passed by municipal government. …if, however, a municipality and acts an ordinance that exceeds its Charter or is in conflict with a state or federal law, the ordinance can be challenged in court and ruled void.


This was a fun read: https://www.cahighways.org/041-048.html


JordanJ

Read the story, it says Highway 101 not Highway 41.


citizensoldier

Great catch JordanJ.

Right MrYan?


Highway 61 https://youtu.be/8hr3Stnk8_k

Robert Allen Zimmerman


namotusurf1944

“Lions and tigers and bears! Oh MY!


citizensoldier

“Banksters, Lawyers and Thieves aka Politicians” My God.


aye-caramba

Democracy means the right to make stupid decisions as a group! The liberalization of marijuana will increasingly be regretted by EVERYONE eventually. I just hope that it does not critically impair too large a number of future voters who become incapable of critical thinking. California, what type of future are you creating?


jimmy_me

Then again, if a large number of voters become incapable of critical thinking, it will necessarily increase the number of republican voters in the state.


Boldguy

We can say whey we want about the corruptness of the cannabis industry, any business with lots of cash and politicians regulating it, is bound to have under table graft galore, as well as legal corruption in the form of political donations and fundraisers!!!

That being said, cannabis laws were written to disallow billboards in the same way that tobacco companies are not allowed to advertise in that way either.


AmericaTheFree

Silly a$$ chit! Outlawing billboards with cannabis advertising but allowing alcohol, adult “toy” stores, casinos, adult “gentlemen’s” clubs and racy as chit movies billboards every frickin’ where you look is about as hypocritical as it comes.

All of the above isn’t good for our children, can be downright deadly in the case of alcohol (by far the leader in the first drug kids use), and is a threat to anyone with an addiction issue with any of them! And we choose to target cannabis? WTF?!!!

The first line of defense in protecting our kid is his or her parents, not some hypocritical ordinance!

But in the spirit of equality we should just outlaw all of them, right? Why not? If nothing else it sure would improve the view…


citizensoldier

It’s time for citizens to regulate the regulators.


Or keep doing what you have been doing and keep getting what you have been getting.


JordanJ

County supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson repeatedly say the voters voted for cannabis, so that means no rules, unlimited growing and selling, the neighbors can move if the smells bother them. The voters voted to legalize cannabis, and they voted to strictly regulate cannabis. Its time government workers and officials listen to the citizens. While I support the right of people to get high on marijuana, I do not want it advertised in front of children.


jimmy_me

No, the voters did not vote to strictly regulate cannabis. The regulations were decided by local governments who have opted to do everything they can to increase tax revenues. As you can see from SLO county, cannabis regulations have led to two things: enhanced corruptness in local governments, and, enhanced black market activities because the price of cannabis remains high. As I joke with everyone, cannabis was more legal before it actually became legal.


Cindy

So the citizens vote to legalize pot and for no billboards. State law says no billboards on interstate highways, and state regulators read both to say within 15 miles of the border. WTH?


It is clear the regulators are in the pocket of those they are paid to regulate. Or is there more money in graft for kissing the behinds of those wealthy pot sellers?


AmericaTheFree

Read the article again, read the statute again; “… licensed marijuana businesses shall not advertise or market on a billboard or similar advertising device located on an Interstate Highway or on a State Highway which crosses the California border.”

No, it isn’t a blanket ban on cannabis billboards on any highway or interstate, it’s a ban on those type of billboards on the highways and interstates at the point where they cross California borders. All the bureau did was clarify it by setting a definitive distance, 15 miles.

The lawsuit is seems personal, and frivolous, and mainly to further enrich the two attorney’s taking it on…