Boulder To MMCs: Avoid Ads With Bikini-Clad Women Holding Bongs

The college town of Boulder, Colorado has developed a reputation as a hub for potheads over the years. Heck, High Times magazine once ranked the University of Colorado as the top cannabis-friendly college campus in the nation.

The fact that Boulder is now home to several dozen medical marijuana dispensaries helps solidify that image. But city officials want to draw a distinct line between the medical side (licensed MMCs and card-carrying patients) and the recreational side (thousands of college kids and others who grow, buy and sell marijuana illegally) of the cannabis community.

In a unanimous vote, city council members backed new rules that bar medical marijuana dispensaries from marketing to recreational users and youth. Advertisements must target patients who use marijuana for medical needs. In other words, ads with busty women in swimsuits holding bongs now rank as a big no-no.

We think that this should – and in fact must – become a best practice across the medical marijuana industry. Many dispensaries craft ads that blatantly cater to recreation users and teens, which tarnishes the entire sector’s image.

But Boulder’s new regulation is way too vague, and we see the possibility of lawsuits as a result. Dispensaries, it seems, won’t be assessed fines or told to pull their ads. Rather, they will be “held accountable” when it’s time to renew their business licenses. OK, but what constitutes an ad aimed at recreational users or youth? That’s up to the city’s licensing clerk, meaning it’s highly subjective.

With no warning system in place, dispensaries will be left to guess what is acceptable and what isn’t. In some cases it’s clear-cut (busty women with bongs), in others it’s not (using words like “chronic” and “kind bud”). Dispensaries that guess wrong could be forced to shut down.

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