NJ Cannabis shops advertising to Philly drivers

NJ Cannabis shops advertising to Philly drivers

Why do I see marijuana billboards on my morning commute if I can’t buy any?

New Jersey dispensaries are heavily advertising in Philly even though it’s illegal to bring weed back into PA.

It’s hard to miss the billboards advertising legal cannabis in New Jersey along I-95 through Philly. 

Ads for recreational marijuana companies just a state away, like Hello High Dispensary, Castaway Cannabis, Bud Bandit Smoke Shop, Nova Farms and more, are blanketing billboards along Philly highways.

And while it might be pretty tempting when passing them on your morning commute or after a long day at work, it’s still illegal to cross the Delaware, buy weed and bring it back to Pennsylvania.

If it’s illegal to buy and bring marijuana back to Philly, why are these ads allowed?

Well, they’re not necessarily promoting illegal activity. Philadelphians can legally go to Jersey, get high there and return home sober

The act of transporting the drug over state lines and possessing it in Philadelphia is the illegal part. Even though the bud was legally purchased and is decriminalized in Philadelphia, it’s considered drug trafficking and against federal law.

“As Pennsylvania’s law currently stands, a person can be charged by any law enforcement agency in Pennsylvania for illegal possession of marijuana within the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Adam Reed, communications office director for the Pennsylvania State Police. “In other words, even though it’s legal to purchase in New Jersey, it can’t be brought back into Pennsylvania legally.”

If you do, you could be hit with up to a five-year sentence and $250,000 fine for a first-time offense.

“Indeed, there are still more than 10,000 annual cannabis possession arrests in Pennsylvania,” said Chris Goldstein, the regional organizer for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “Philly has decriminalized cannabis, but there are still thousands of civil marijuana citations issued by city police and still about 500 annual arrests for cannabis possession in Philly.”

Despite this, state legislation recently relaxed cannabis advertising laws with Senate Bill No. 846 in 2023.

According to the law, a cannabis business establishment can advertise cannabis and cannabis-infused edible and nonedible products, as long as they meet five criteria:

  1. The advertisement is not false or misleading,
  2. does not promote over-consumption of cannabis,
  3. does not depict a person younger than 21 consuming cannabis,
  4. does not make any unsupported health claims about cannabis,
  5. and does not appeal to minors.

While setting up these billboards doesn’t seem so difficult after all, cannabis businesses still need approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to advertise on “controlled routes,” which includes most major roads and highways in Philadelphia.

Most cannabis billboards on controlled routes are considered off-premise signs, meaning they aren’t on the same side of the road as, same property as or within 100 feet of the advertised activity.

Companies then need to apply for a permit to be approved by the local PennDOT District Office where the sign would be located.

Once the company checks off permission from the landowner and local municipality and meets requirements for zoning, spacing and quantity, PennDOT will likely approve the application.

Some businesses, like Hello High Dispensary, advertise through external billboard companies, so the responsibility to ensure signs are compliant with Pennsylvania law falls on the billboard company, said Adam Siegel, Hello High Dispensary’s Director of Operations.

“We chose to advertise in Pennsylvania because of the proximity to New Jersey,” Siegel said. “We also deliver to all of South Jersey so most of the people that would drive past those billboards will be in our delivery zone. Another reason why we would choose the billboards that we did is because we are located near Hammonton in Hamilton Township (Mays Landing). We are right on the way to Atlantic City and other shore points. It seemed like it made sense.”

So, are Philadelphians buying New Jersey weed?

Absolutely. Whether they’re keeping it there legally or bringing it back illegally, Philadelphians are buying bud from our neighboring state. 

It’s “high-larious” to think people won’t transport it over state lines, Goldstein said.

However, Jersey cannabis can cost twice as much as the medicinal strains in Pennsylvania. At Hello High Dispensary, for example, one ounce of dried flower costs around $650. Buying medical or off the street would save customers hundreds.

Unless they can afford some of the most pricey weed in America, Pennsylvania customers are probably engaging with the businesses promoted on local billboards less often than expected, Goldstein said. 

“Remember also that retail cannabis is now legal in New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland and Ohio,” Goldstein said. “So, Pennsylvania residents will have even more options to do some cannabis tourism.”

For more Cannabis News like this, circle back to 420intel.com!

420 Intel News | 420 Advertising | Cannabis Business News | Medical Marijuana News | Recreational Marijuana News


Hand on heart – are you wearing pajamas right now?


Disqus content widget