Billboard ads could prompt kids and teens to try Marijuana
Witnesses cite research indicating the adverse effects of marijuana on young brains, want to stop billboard ads for pot.
It's not just legislators who are fed up with the Cannabis Control Commission's lack of responsiveness. Members of the public who have petitioned the body to address concerns with the amount of billboard advertisements advocating the use of marijuana are also unhappy.
While the Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy, Adam Gomez, D-Springfield, acknowledged receipt of the letter, he refrained from commenting on its contents beyond saying that the letter has been read and filed and will be addressed in the future.
“We’re working with the co-chair on next steps,” Gomez said, adding that the committee will give the agency time and an opportunity to work out its internal issues. “People have voiced their concerns.”
Those people includes three women who attended the Tuesday Joint Committee hearing at the commission's headquarters in Union Station. They have individually been pressing the commission to more closely regulate billboard advertisements promoting cannabis.
“We don’t believe the laws regulating billboard advertisements are enforceable,” said Ornella Quinn, a Berlin mother and activist. All three women, and others testifying regarding a proposal to ban billboard advertising of cannabis and its derivative products and retailers, suggested the ads go the way of tobacco advertising, banned in 1999.
Current regulations require that 85% of the audiences targeted by cannabis advertisements be composed of adults. The women point out that it is impossible to limit billboard viewership to adults.
Violations on case-by-case basis
The women contend the billboard ads violate the law, and despite numerous meetings with the CCC, the agency has not taken action to sanction the violators nor stop the violations from occurring. The CCC, the women reported, had indicated it would address violations of the law on a case-by-case basis.
“We have lost confidence in the ability of the CCC to regulate billboard advertisements,” Quinn said. The bill banning billboard ads was filed by Rep. Patrick Joseph Kearney, D-Scituate.
“We all know kids learn to read by reading billboards,” said Theresa Hoggins. Many of the advertisements for cannabis are located in close proximity to colleges and universities, as well as clustered on billboards along the state’s major highways.
“Cannabis for everyone” reads one of the billboards on Route 90 in Springfield. “Life is better with cannabis,” reads another one, said Hoggins. “ 'Keeping Spirits High,' 'Making Life Better…' what kind of message is this sending to children,” she asked?
The advertising campaigns, they contend, normalize cannabis use and consumption, and send a message that the substance can safely be consumed by all.
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