Aiming to slow illicit cannabis sales that are undercutting the nation’s largest licensed market, California is kicking off a public information campaign – Get #weedwise – that encourages consumers to verify their purchases are tested and legal.

Advertisements will be hitting social media sites and billboards promoting a state website, CApotcheck.com, where shoppers can quickly check if a shop is licensed.

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The advertising campaign makes a simple argument: You don’t know what you’re getting if you buy illegal products.

One ad warns, “What’s in your weed shouldn’t be a mystery. Shop licensed cannabis retailers only.”

The campaign “will directly impact consumer safety by clarifying that only cannabis purchased from licensed retailers has met the state’s safety standards,” Bureau of Cannabis Control chief Lori Ajax said in a statement.

The ads also are intended to telegraph a warning to illicit shops and underground growers: Get licensed to operate in the legal market or shut down.

Illegal products have not met strict state testing standards and could be tainted by mold, pesticides, heavy metals – even human waste.

Agency spokesman Alex Traverso said the ads are part of a three-pronged campaign to eventually corral illegal sales.

The others are enforcement, including shutting down illegal shops and farms, and quickly licensing businesses that want to enter the legal economy.

The state is spending an initial $1.7 million on the campaign and hopes to “get in front of as many eyeballs as possible,” Traverso said.

– Associated Press