LANSING, Mich. — A state representative is planning to introduce a bill that would stop marijuana businesses from using billboards to advertise.
Republican State Rep. Mary Whiteford of Allegan County is co-sponsoring the pair of bills alongside Democratic State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud of Dearborn.
Whiteford says its unsettling to see these kinds of advertisements peppered alongside busy roads.
“So I’m a grandma. My granddaughter is six and my grandsons are three and one. And as I drive down the highway I see these glorious brightly colored billboards. As I look closer, its for marijuana," said Rep. Whiteford.
It’s a concern Stephen Linder from the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association, is familiar with.
He says his organization is working to change attitudes toward cannabis and avoid measures like this legislation.
“There’s a lot of misinformation and also there’s not quite the full public acceptance of the cannabis industry right now,”said Linder.
Linder says the cannabis industry brings in billions of dollars in revenue each year and has helped to keep the state’s economy thriving during the pandemic.
“We employ thousands of Michigan citizens. We are paying tens of thousands of dollars in taxes. So it is a true supply chain, manufacturing and retail industry and during the pandemic we were one of the industries because our products are also considered medicine so we were listed as one of the essential businesses, "said Linder.
But Whiteford says the cannabis industry should be held to the same standard as tobacco companies.
“I think it’s a big problem. We can’t have tobacco on billboards so why are we able to have marijuana on billboards?” said Whiteford.
Linder says the comparison doesn’t hold up.
“There is a very important distinction. Tobacco is listed as a carcinogen and it has to be properly labeled. Cannabis is not listed as a carcinogen. It is considered medicine. At least those products that pass the testing standards. And most cannabis products are not smoked. Most cannabis products are ingested in the form of edibles,” said Linder.
Linder says his organization is hoping to sit down and talk with Whiteford so they can find a compromise.
Whiteford and Hammoud are expected to introduce this legislation next week.
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