Suit challenges cannabis bureau more than marijuana billboards

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October 9, 2019

By KAREN VELIE

A San Luis Obispo man with two teenagers is suing the California Bureau of Cannabis Manage more than marijuana business enterprise billboards that he says have been banned below Proposition 64, the voter initiative that legalized and regulates cannabis. [Cal Coast Times]

Matthew Farmer, a licensed common contractor, brought suit in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. San Luis Obispo attorneys Saro Rizzo and Stewart Jenkins represent Farmer.

California’s Company and Professions Code 26152(d) says that licensed marijuana organizations shall not “advertise or marketplace on a billboard or equivalent marketing device positioned on an Interstate Highway or on a State Highway which crosses the California border.” The Bureau interpreted California’s law regulating state licensed marijuana organizations to imply that billboards could be applied to promote marijuana organizations on interstate highways as extended as they have been not inside 15 miles of the border.

“No billboards implies no billboards,” the suit contends. “This blanket prohibition was presented to the voters and 7,979,041 of them voted for it believing that this would be the law and that their will would not be subsequently eviscerated by a modest group of unelected bureaucrats.”

The bureau made Regulation 5040(b)(three), that went into impact on Jan. 16, 2019, permitting the billboard marketing.

“The bureau determined that a 15-mile radius was a needed and proper distance from the California border simply because it satisfies the intent of section 26152(d) of the Company and Professions Code, even though assuring that bureau licensees have an chance to promote and marketplace along Interstate and State Highways if they satisfy the identified radius limitations” according to bureau employees.

Rizzo and Jenkins acknowledge in their suit that state law permits the bureau to make and prescribe affordable guidelines and regulations needed to implement, administer, and enforce state laws. But the guidelines and regulations should be constant with the purposes and intent of Proposition 64 and state statutes, the lawsuit says.

“What adopting the regulation did do was substantially alter and undermine the statute’s effect in a manner that is inconsistent with the voters’ intent in violation of the Company and Professions Code,” the civil complaint says.

Farmer voted in favor of proposition 64, according to the suit.

“These billboards are and will continue to unnecessarily expose himself and millions of individuals, like hundreds of thousands of minors, all through the state to cannabis marketing on a day-to-day basis contradictory to the intent and goal of Proposition 64,” the lawsuit says.

In his suit, Farmer points to a Fantastic Union billboard on Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo County as an instance of a marijuana business enterprise relying on the bureau’s faulty interpretation of the California Code.

The lawsuit asks the court to void the bureau’s regulation permitting marketing on interstate highways, need the bureau to inform all cannabis organizations that the regulation has been vacated, and spend all expenses connected to the suit.



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