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"Aggressive" Pot Ads Under Fire in Denver

The city votes to ban its notoriously "in-your-face" advertisements for medical marijuana.

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This spinner could soon be out of a job.
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By Chrisanne Grise

08/14/12

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Medical marijuana advertising in Denver has a reputation for being shockingly in-your-face, flaunting psychedelic themes and promoting great highs at a low price. But these aggressive ads will soon be out-of-sight. The city council unanimously passed a ban on outdoor advertising on marijuana yesterday, which would apply to things like billboards, bus benches and sidewalk sign spinners. While the ordinance would not affect print, radio or television ads, these would have to include a disclaimer that marijuana is “for registered Colorado medical marijuana patients only.” The ban is not yet official, as it still needs to pass one more vote next week, but the odds certainly seem in its favor. “I don't appreciate folks that are out in front of a creepy old van slinging this dope, and they're making this industry look bad," says Councilman Paul Lopez. "I'm sick and tired of my neighborhood being overrun by folks who don't respect it." Some medical pot groups spoke in support of the ban, including the Medical Marijuana Industry Group. "Because we want to be good community members, we can make reasonable concessions that satisfy community concerns,” says Mike Elliott, the group’s executive director. But not all weed advocates agreed: "We don't necessarily need sign spinners on the side of the road, but we do need to opportunity to educate," says dispensary owner Cheri Hackett. The Cannabis Business Alliance chimed in, saying that the ban isn’t clear about what is allowed and what is not. For example, would dispensaries be able to hand out T-shirts with a logo on it? "It's pretty short on specifics," says spokeswoman Kristen Thomson, "and for us it leaves many unanswered questions."

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