BY ED MURRIETA
Who doesn’t love a cute cat meme?
Lawmakers in Olympia, Wash., to name a few.
Spurred by a billboard using a picture of a happy cat and a headline purring, “Im so high right meow” to advertise a Tacoma pot shop, the Washington state Legislature passed a bill on Thursday that restricts the images and messages cannabis companies can use on billboards.
In addition to banning “images that might be appealing to children,” the bill would allow outdoor advertisements to show only a pot shop’s name, logo, location and its type of business. No depictions of plants or products would be permitted.
Adam Schmidt, owner of Clear Choice Cannabis, the store that advertised the feline meme, said the billboard was never intended to appeal to kids, but instead to distinguish his business from others in the minds of adults.
“We try to be creative with our advertising like any business would,” Schmidt said, “and they just didn’t like that.”
Schmidt said he is taking down the billboard after hearing lawmakers’ complaints.
The bill awaits Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature.
Washington isn’t the only billboard battleground. A bill in the California Legislature seeks to ban billboard advertising by cannabis companies. Canada’s newly proposed legalization petition restricts all advertising. A 14-year-old boy in Oregon launched a petition to ban cannabis billboards.
Billboard advertising is altogether moot in some cannabis-legal states. Alaska and Hawaii (medical) and Maine and Vermont (recreational) ban all billboards, cannabis or no cannabis.
Las Vegas eased cannabis billboard restrictions last year.