SLO County judge rules to ban billboards advertising marijuana along CA highways
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - A San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge ruled on Friday that billboards advertising marijuana will no longer be allowed along California highways.
Judge Ginger Garrett ruled against the California Bureau of Cannabis Control striking down a 2019 regulation it had adopted that allowed for the advertising of cannabis on billboards on virtually all portions of California’s highways that cross its border.
The final ruling is the end of a public interest lawsuit filed in 2019 by San Luis Obispo resident Matthew Farmer, a father of two, who argued that the billboards were illegal under California Proposition 64 and wrongfully exposed his children and millions of others to cannabis advertising.
Business and Professions Code section 26152(d), enacted under Proposition 64, states that a licensee shall not advertise or market on a billboard or similar advertising device located on an Interstate Highway or on a State Highway which crosses the California border.
“This ruling is a major triumph on several fronts,” said one of Farmer's attorneys Saro Rizzo. “First, it’s a victory for all Californians over the desires of unelected Sacramento bureaucrats who illegally tried to put corporate profits ahead of children’s health. Second, it’s a vindication of the doctrine of separation of powers in that an agency under the control of the Governor’s Office was basically told that it cannot subvert the voters will by adopting a regulation that clearly conflicted with a statute.”
Farmer's second attorney Stew Jenkins added, “Besides endangering public health, the unlawful regulation issued by the Bureau of Cannabis Control put California in danger of losing 10% of its desperately needed Federal Highway Funding under the Lady Bird Johnson Highway Beautification Act. This ruling will prevent that loss.”
On Friday, Nov. 20, the Bureau of Cannabis Control announced that its Chief, Lori Ajax, is resigning effective Dec. 2, 2020.