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Michigan Lawmakers Push to Ban Cannabis Billboards



A Michigan state representative is planning to introduce a bill that would stop cannabis businesses from using billboards to advertise products.

Republican State Representative Mary Whiteford of Allegan County is co-sponsoring the pair of bills alongside Democratic State Representative Abdullah Hammoud of Deaborn. She says she notices a lot of billboards advertising cannabis businesses on her frequent drives to Lansing, and she feels the sight of them are unsettling.

“I am a grandma,” she said. “My granddaughter is six, and my grandsons are three and one. And as I drive down the highway, I see the glorious, brightly colored billboards. One said we had a new state flower. As I look closer, it’s for marijuana.” 

The bill is still in the beginning of its planning stages.

For dispensary owner Davide Uccello, if the bill passes, he would lose out on already limited advertising. “We have two types of media we can use,” he said. “That’s online, and that’s billboards.”

The restrictions would also hurt billboard companies. “The cannabis industry is currently the number-one purchaser of billboards,” Uccello said.

Whiteford’s proposed bill and concerns are nothing out of the ordinary for Stepehn Linder from the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association. He says his organization is working to change attitudes towards cannabis and avoid measures like this legislation. 

“There is a lot of misinformation, and there is not the full public acceptance of the cannabis industry right now,” Linder said. 

According to Linder, the cannabis industry brings in billions of dollars in revenue each year and has helped to keep the state’s economy thriving during the pandemic.

“We employ thousands of Michigan citizens,” he said. “We are payings tens of thousands of dollars in taxes. So, it is a true supply chain, manufacturing, ad retail industry. During the pandemic, we were one of the industries listed as one of the essential businesses because our products are also considered medicine.”

Whiteford believes the cannabis industry should be held to the same standard as tobacco companies. “I think it is a big problem,” she said. “ We can’t have tobacco on billboards, so why are we able to have marijuana on billboards?”

Linder says the comparison does not hold up.