For many, legal cannabis in California looks like a done deal. In the polls, at least 60 percent of Californians said they’d vote in favor of Prop. 64, the ballot initiative which would put legal marijuana in place this November.

But nothing’s over till it’s over, and the anti-Pop. 64 people are determined to find a way to poison voters against recreational marijuana. And now they might have actually landed on something: TV commercials.

The ballot measure would allow cannabis advertising just about anywhere, according to the Washington Post. An excerpt from the proposition reads like this: “Any advertising or marketing placed in broadcast, cable, radio, print and digital communications shall only be displayed where at least 71.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older, as determined by reliable, up-to-date audience composition data.”

71.6 percent is a pretty low threshold for advertising, and includes almost every TV show or website that isn’t expressly devoted to little kids. A member of the No on Prop. 64 movement told the Los Angeles Times that this lax regulation “means almost every show on television will have ads promoting smoking marijuana.”

And it seems that voters don’t want every show on TV to have ads promoting smoking marijuana. The No on 64 people have put out releases saying that passing the ballot initiative would mean an “end a 45-year ban on smoking ads on television.” And they found in a survey they conducted that support for the measure sank 13 percent when voters were told that recreational marijuana would cause cannabis advertising on prime-time TV.

The only problem with that argument is that it is inconsistent with how the cannabis industry has worked up until now. A similar provision in Colorado allows for marijuana advertising where more than 70 percent of the audience is over 21, according to the Washington Post. But, after years of legal pot in Colorado, not one single cannabis commercial has run on TV. That’s because cannabis commercials are banned at a federal level and TV stations which has considered running weed ads felt a “lack of clarity around federal regulations that govern broadcast involving such ads.”

So, why did the Prop. 64 people even bother to include this provision that could turn into a lightning rod for controversy? Maybe it’s because California weed is expected to be a $6 billion industry by 2020. And those that find themselves in a multi-multi-billion dollar industry like being able to advertise to customers.


Photo via Flickr user David Gach