As legalized marijuana continues to find its footing as an industry in Washington, the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) has found that advertising violations make up one of the largest categories of infractions among marijuana businesses.
In a report to the House Commerce and Gaming Committee’s Nov. 16 work session, the LCB found 921 enforcement violations between September 2016 and September 2017, of which 14 percent were advertising violations, the second-largest category after the 18 percent segment, made up of marijuana producers who failed to utilize or maintain traceability; in other words, tracking marijuana through the supply chain.
LCB spokesperson Mikhail Carpenter accounted for this number by pointing out that marijuana businesses had previously operated for decades as an unlicensed industry, without any form of regulation governing how it could promote itself.
“What makes it especially tricky is that there’s what was allowed by the initial set of restrictions, and then what was allowed by the LCB’s additional rules, and then how the state Legislature chose to further refine what was permissible,” Carpenter said. “It’s tricky, because you’re dealing with First Amendment free speech issues.”
As an example, Carpenter noted that a number of marijuana businesses have been reported for employing “sign spinners” to hold promotional signs on the sides of roads.
“There are restrictions on how many signs you can have, and where,” Carpenter said. “You’re not allowed to advertise on public streets, nor are you allowed to depict marijuana plants or products in print, or with cartoon characters or costumes. It can be complicated.”
Carpenter noted that the recorded violations are complaint-driven, with some coming from competing businesses and former employees.
“The public does file objections as well, but it can be