San Diego Plans to Limit Cannabis Billboards

San Diego, California is reforming its cannabis industry beginning with a crackdown on billboards advertising cannabis by the end of the year.

City Councilmember Chris Cate initially proposed legislation last year that would keep billboards advertising cannabis away from schools, recreation centers and other places where young people and children are frequently located. Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s staff said that the proposal would be approved as a part of municipal code updates this spring, but it was delayed to the end of this year. The billboard crackdown is expected to be heard by the planning commission on Oct. 24 and is expected to be approved by the entire city council by the end of the year.

The restrictions would apply to both legal and illegal cannabis businesses, a move applauded by members of the cannabis industry. State law has been criticized for leaving open the question of whether the restrictions apply to illegal businesses. More than half of the cities 14 legal cannabis dispensaries consistently rely on the billboards, which cost anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000 per month, to attract customers.

In addition to the billboard reform, San Diego also has plans to change the word “marijuana” to “cannabis” in all city codes and documents. The goal of changing the language is to match language used in the 2016 ballot initiative and the language used by the state with city regulations. Officials also plan to further soften the rules that prohibit cannabis businesses from opening within 100 feet of housing and 1,000 feet of churches, parks, schools and youth-oriented facilities by changing how the distance is measured.

San Diego officials have managed to shut down nearly all of the illegal dispensaries in the city, although an estimated 100 illegal delivery services have popped up as a new black market for illegal cannabis. Los Angeles is also planning a crackdown on unlicensed cannabis businesses.

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