Marijuana advertising restrictions under consideration in Michigan

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Journalism at Michigan State University

If you’re traveling through Lansing, you’re probably going to cross paths with one of Lansing’s many “High Lansing” billboards. Some Lansing residents assigned Lansing a new nickname: Lansterdam.

Weedmaps advertisements can be found scattered throughout Lansing. Weedmaps’ website allows patients with medical marijuana cards to find dispensaries based on their location. It also rates dispensaries, offers deals, and allows users to write reviews. Many of the dispensaries have more than 300 reviews, and more than 20,000 hits.

State Sen. Rick Jones estimates Lansing has more than 70 dispensaries. “Technically all are illegal, but the city has decided to allow them,” he said.

According to Carol Wood, a Lansing City Council member, patients with their medical marijuana cards must obtain a legal caregiver to fill their prescriptions.

“The purchase of medical marijuana, if it’s not from their caregiver and they’re listed as a patient, is illegal,” said Wood. “So any of the [billboards] that are up currently, encouraging people to go to dispensaries, is actually propagating an illegal act.”

Some dispensaries in Lansing were found to be selling other illegal drugs out the back door.

“We’ve had a couple people who were in prison that were selling marijuana out the front and cocaine and heroin out the back of one place that got shut down,” said Jones.

Jones and State Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, are working in a bi-partisan effort to regulate the advertisement of medical marijuana on signs. By introducing House Bill 4767, and Senate Bill 463, they hope to achieve the same regulations as for tobacco and sexual content advertisements.

Although the selling, purchasing, and consumption of tobacco is legal for persons more than 18 years of age, it is illegal under the current statute to advertise the purchasing or consumption of tobacco. This set the precedent to legislate a legal entity.

House Bill 4767 “would not allow for advertising marijuana the same way tobacco is not allowed,” said Schor. Under the new bill, violators will be subject to a fine of no less than $5,000, and no more than $10,000.

“I think there are many people that don’t want to see Lansing as ‘High Lansing,’ as the marijuana capital,” said Schor.

Wood believes regulations like these have an enormous impact on the community. “Local government affects you seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” she said.

“My first complaint I received was a woman who had her son in the car. As they were driving, the young man was explaining to his mother they had spelled ‘high’ wrong. He was thinking it was ‘hi, hello, how are you?’ She had to explain what they were talking about. There are enough issues that are bombarding our children today, that adding to that is not something that we need to be doing.”

If you would like to voice your opinion, you can find and contact your local state representative.