• Marijuana Ads On Billboards – Washington versus Colorado

    Our Insider article on the Colorado “Adopt a Highway” sign takeover by the marijuana industry brought us some follow up correspondence and information we wanted to pass along.

    Westword, through an open-records request to the Colorado Department of Transportation, learned that of the 287 miles of Colorado roadway that are currently part of the state’s Sponsor a Highway program, 140 of them, or just under half, are being paid for by marijuana businesses.

    Insider even heard from someone in the Colorado DOT who provided the following information.

    In Colorado, marijuana advertising is controlled by the rules of the Marijuana Enforcement Division of Law Enforcement.

    The Sponsorship Signs are regulated and allowed by the Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices or MUTCD. The State of Colorado has adopted the MUTCD as it is required to do with a state supplement. CDOT does not have a dog in the hunt (so to speak :)) on the issue of “advertising” we just enforce the rules on signs within the right-of-way. Advertisement or the lack of it in the right-of-way is controlled by the requirements of the MUTCD.

    So what specifically is the language in Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division of Law Enforcement?  The following is straight from their enforcement code.

    That got us thinking about Insider’s home state of Washington which also was an early entrant into the legal marijuana business.  Washington State also has very specific language about billboard advertising, but it is not a total ban.  Here is an example of a compliant billboard advertisement and how the specific regulation reads from the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board:

    The focus in the Washington advertising restrictions is toward those under the legal age of 21.  The idea is to always indicate the legal age for use of the product and not make the boards overly attractive to minors (similar to the cigarette companies in the Joe Camel days).

    Insider’s Take: So why does any of this matter?  If you are a billboard company in Washington State you know why, because the Cannabis industry has very quickly become a significant customer.  A local GM in Spokane WA indicated that the marijuana retailers represents approximately 10% of their revenue and he feels that Lamar’s percentage is even higher.

    If you have a state that has recently legalized or is considering legalizing marijuana, you should be pointing to the regulations in Washington State, which are responsible towards protecting minors, and allow the outdoor industry to participate in a significant revenue stream.

    If you have any thoughts on the industry, let us know by filling out the comment form below.


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