Arizona Senator David Farnsworth of Mesa is seeking to block businesses from being able to promote their medical marijuana dispensaries and products.
Farnsworth’s bill, SB 1032, would make it illegal to advertise any federally illegal substance along Arizona state roads, the Arizona Capitol Times reported.
Currently, the bill only pertains to the banning of advertising federally illegal drugs along Arizona’s numbered state roads and interstate highways. But Farnsworth likely wants all street-visible marijuana advertising banned, and not just along major roadways. “We’re going to have to go back and recraft [the bill],” he said. But he mentioned he’d be happy just to get the bill to pass in its current form, stating that it’s “still a step in the right direction.”
Attorney Jeff Kaufman said, “I think the bill, if enacted, would eventually be stricken down by the Court of Appeals as discriminating against a lawful form of medication,” citing that the state’s judges cannot use the federal illegality of marijuana as a reason to create regulations that impede state-legal medical marijuana dispensaries from operating.
Conversely, Dan Barr, a First Amendment Coalition attorney, says that sometimes state courts give states room in regulating “commercial speech.” Barr noted that California recently restricted advertising marijuana in a manner that could encourage persons under 21 from consuming the products as well as banning billboards within 1,000 feet of schools and day care facilities.
Billboard advertising is rather rare in medical marijuana states because only medical marijuana patients – an extremely niche demographic – can buy medical marijuana products. Billboards are expensive and designed to advertise to the masses for things such as sporting events, concerts and movies, so advertising via billboards in medical marijuana states is generally fruitless. Whereas billboard advertising in recreational marijuana states can create a large return on investment because, in those states, a majority of the population does, or can, use marijuana products.