Put a bud on it
I hear I can’t sell hats with my cannabis logo anymore. What gives?
—Truck R. Hatz
Not yet, but if a bill making its way through the California Legislature manages to pass, cannabis companies would be prohibited from selling hats, shirts or virtually any sort of thing with a commercial cannabis brand.
Senate Bill 162, authored by Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, would keep state-licensed cannabis businesses from advertising “through the use of branded merchandise, including, but not limited to, clothing, hats, or other merchandise with the name or logo of the product.”
This is a ridiculous idea. Not only is this a somewhat tricky First Amendment issue, this bill is clearly anti-business. The legalization of cannabis has created a boom for the manufacturing industry. Go to any cannabis trade show and you will find folks handing out branded shirts, hats, lighters, rolling trays, rolling papers, all sorts of stuff.
Allen claims that his bill aims to keep children from being exposed to cannabis advertising, but I’m not buying it. “Think of the children!” is one of the oldest concern-troll tricks in the book. Studies show that states with legal marijuana see a drop in juvenile cannabis use. Also, how would California enforce this law? Instead of raiding dispensaries, are the authorities gonna start raiding shirt printing facilities? This is just a bad idea.
Unfortunately, this bill has already passed the Senate and is headed to the Assembly. It is up to us to lean on our elected officials and remind them that cannabis is not tobacco, nor is it crack. If people can buy a hat from Budweiser or Clos Du Bois, they should be able to buy a hat from Weedmaps or Korova Edibles. Full stop.
I am starting a business in a legal-cannabis state. Should I be worried about the feds?
Yeah, probably. I hate to say it, but federal law seems to be headed backward, not forward. Surprise. Besides Attorney General Jefferson Sessions’ evil plans to keep the private prisons full of otherwise law-abiding pot users, state-legal growers may have to start worrying about their neighbors snitching to the feds.
Last month, someone in Colorado sued all of their state-legal pot growing neighbors using the set of federal anti-racketeering laws known as the RICO Act, and a Colorado appeals court has granted approval for the lawsuit to continue. Last week, people in Oregon sued 43 of their pot growing neighbors using the same approach.
Because RICO is a federal act, and cannabis is illegal under federal law, these suits could cause problems for every state legal business in the country. Make no mistake: If these lawsuits succeed, Sessions will not hesitate to try to shut down every legal cannabis grower in the country. I am not sure what the solution would be, other than to legalize cannabis at the federal level. Unfortunately, the American people have seen fit to elect a leader willing to decimate our progress as a country. Sigh.