Prohibition on Outdoor Signs and Billboards on Interstate and Border-Crossing State Highways

It’s time to update your marketing team of the recent changes of advertising regulations promulgated by the Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”). On January 21, 2021, the BCC announced that Section 5040(b)(3) of the BCC text of regulations, which authorized billboard advertisements of cannabis products on interstate or state highways, was immediately invalid going forward.

Farmer v. Bureau of Cannabis Control & Lori Ajax

This notice was the result of a court ruling that held Section 5040(b)(3) facially inconsistent with advertising restrictions included in Proposition 64, enacted as Business and Professions Code Section 26152(d) (“B&P Section 26152(d)”). In the case of Farmer v. Bureau of Cannabis Control & Lori Ajax, the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court ruled that the BCC overstepped its authority by attempting to regulate billboards in a manner inconsistent with Proposition 64.

A licensee shall not do any of the following:

(d) Advertise or market on a billboard or similar advertising device located on an Interstate Highway or on a State Highway which crosses the California border.

Section 26152(d), California Business and Professions Code

Prior to Farmer ruling, Section 5040(b)(3) permitted outdoor signs, including billboards, on interstate or state highways, except for within a 15-mile radius of the California border.

(b) In addition to the requirements for advertising and marketing in subsection (a) of this section, all outdoor signs, including billboards, shall:

(1) Be affixed to a building or permanent structure;

(2) Comply with the provisions of the Outdoor Advertising Act, commencing with section 5200 of the Business and Professions Code, if applicable; and

(3) Not be located within a 15-mile radius of the California border on an Interstate Highway or on a State Highway that crosses the California border.

Section 5040 (b), Bureau of Cannabis Control, Text of Regulations.

In contrast, B&P Section 26152(d) states that licensees are prohibited from advertising on a billboard located on an interstate or state highway which crosses the California border.

Although no deadline has been set for removal of offending billboards, Licensees with billboards should be in the process of removing the advertising materials. If you need help determining whether this prohibition is now applicable to your marketing efforts, please contact the cannabis industry regulatory compliance attorneys at Rogoway Law Group

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