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Cannabis billboards on highways 1 and 101 will be illegal starting March 1. Gavin Kogan, CEO of Grupo Flor, the company that posted this billboard, calls the rule “a prohibitionist knee-jerk reaction.”

California’s proposition system takes a lot of heat, including over confusing wording written by regular people, then approved by voters and enacted into law. Consider section 26152 of Prop. 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which included this prohibition: “No licensee shall advertise or market on a billboard or similar advertising device located on an interstate highway or state highway which crosses the border of any other state.”

The California Bureau of Cannabis Control interpreted section 26152 to mean no billboard advertising within a 15-mile radius of the California border.

On Jan. 11, a judge in San Luis Obispo Superior Court ruled that voters meant no billboards on highways anywhere, forcing the BCC to issue new regulations that take effect on March 1.

There are dozens of cannabis billboards in Monterey County, including about 10-15 on highways 1 and 101 affected by the decision. They were legally posted – not within 15 miles of a state border – but effective March 1, they will be.

Deputy District Attorney Greg Peterson says the big issue is making sure everyone is playing by the same rules. “We don’t have anything against cannabis,” he says. “This is an attempt to ensure fair competition in the nascent cannabis industry.”

Gavin Kogan is CEO of Grupo Flor, which has two Monterey County dispensaries called East of Eden, and plans to open a third, White Fire, in Prunedale this spring. The company’s billboards are not just about getting customers through the door, he says. “They are an indication of normalization. We think the requirement to take down the billboards is ridiculous, and serves little benefit.”

Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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