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San Diego, California Targets Cannabis Billboards




On Jan. 13, the San Diego City Council unanimously approved a ban on cannabis billboard ads within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, daycare centers and other sensitive areas.

Last October, city leaders alluded that a crackdown on cannabis billboards was coming by the end of 2019. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the new law will make 352 of the city’s 644 existing billboard sites eligible for cannabis billboard,  which adds up to about 54 percent of billboard sites.

Current state law bars cannabis billboard ads from displaying within 1,000 feet of certain sensitive areas, but the new change adds parks and other types of areas to the list. Critics of the move say that city leadership should have also banned billboards from areas near libraries, churches and other places that are frequented by young people. The list of critics includes representatives from San Diegans for Safe Neighborhoods.

“I believe the ordinance strikes the right balance that will protect children from cannabis billboard exposure and also create a legal and constitutionally sound ordinance that is narrowly tailored,” Councilmemeber Chris Cate said at the meeting. Cate has long been known as an opponent to cannabis in the local area.

Council President Georgette Gómez said that she would prefer to see libraries included in a potential revised version of the law in the future.

A representative from billboard company Clear Channel said that the company supports the new changes and already adheres to the regulations.

The law, however, does permit a six-month grace period that allows businesses to get into compliance. Violation of the new law could result in citations and fines. It’s certainly not the first time cannabis billboards have drawn attention. Statewide restrictions on cannabis billboards were added as an amendment to Proposition 64 in 2016. Cannabis billboards caused controversy in Massachusetts in 2017.