Denver Set to Ban Outdoor Medical Marijuana Ads, Move Will Both Hurt and Help MMJ Industry

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Denver dispensaries that promote their products via billboards or spinning roadside signs will have to come up with a new marketing strategy.

A proposal to ban most forms of outdoor medical marijuana advertising in Denver sailed through city council Monday night, receiving a unanimous show of support after a public hearing on the issue. The 13-0 vote in favor of the ban virtually assures its passage when the council takes up the proposal a second time next week.

The ban includes sign twirlers, billboards and flyers placed on car windshields, but dispensaries will still be able to use storefront signs.

The medical marijuana community is split on the ban, with one local industry organization supporting it and another opposing it.

Both sides have some valid points. As we see it, there are three tangible drawbacks:

#1. Smaller dispensaries located away from main thoroughfares and new MMJ centers trying to get customers could have a harder time attracting drive-by traffic.

#2. Advertising and marketing options for all dispensaries will shrink, making it more difficult in general to stand out.

#3. The industry will have to deal with yet another layer of regulations, adding to an already-crushing burden of rules and laws.

There is, however, one main benefit: improved image. Many people outside the MMJ realm seem to associate sign spinners with shady businesses, while others think roadside ads catch the attention of children. Some think these forms of advertising simply aren’t appropriate for a business that is supposed to be about medicine and helping sick individuals.

Ridding the city of MMJ billboards and sign spinners could help improve the industry’s image overall among city officials and the general public. Increased support from those two groups will be vital in the long run if the industry is to thrive.