The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board e-mailed an enforcement bulletin today to cannabis industry members which stated:
After hearing from and working with stakeholders in the licensee community, WSLCB understood that Bulletin 19-01 did not fully answer all of the licensees’ questions and raised some additional concerns. Accordingly, this Bulletin clarifies and supersedes Bulletin 19-01.
RCW 69.50.369(1) provides that: No licensed marijuana producer, processor, researcher, or retailer may place or maintain, or cause to be placed or maintained, any sign or other advertisement for a marijuana business or marijuana product, including useable marijuana, marijuana concentrates, or marijuana-infused product, in any form or through any medium whatsoever within one thousand feet of the perimeter of a school grounds, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, or library, or any game arcade admission to which is not restricted to persons aged twenty-one years or older.
The advertising regulations encompassed within RCW 69.50.369 do not apply to noncommercial messages. RCW 69.50.369(9).
What does this mean for licensees?
RCW 69.50.369(1) restricts the placement of “any sign or other advertisement for a marijuana business or marijuana product” within 1000’ of the listed restricted entities, such as public parks and elementary and secondary schools.
Those restrictions apply to any signs or advertisements that are commercial in nature. On the other hand, the use of a business trade name on a booth, or identified as part of a sponsorship level that is non-commercial, would not constitute a violation of the statute. This would include identification of sponsors who are supportive of an advocacy event (such as Seattle Hempfest).
Additionally, RCW 69.50.369(9) provides that the advertising restrictions do not apply to a noncommercial message. Information provided to people attending the event such as general information about marijuana, growing cycles, coloration, fragrance, etc. would be considered allowable information-sharing if it is noncommercial.
Licensed businesses are free to share non-commercial literature, e.g. literature or fliers that address advocacy, informational, or educational matters, such as law reform or law change, scientific research concerning the benefits or risks of marijuana use, or other matters of political or educational interest at any booth at any event. Such literature may bear the name and logos of licensed marijuana businesses, as well as their store address, telephone and contact information
However, advertising of marijuana, marijuana concentrates, useable marijuana, and marijuana-infused products at an event held within 1000’ of a restricted entity is prohibited by RCW 69.50.369(1), which should be observed by all WSLCB licensees at the event. In determining advertising, our interpretation includes the advertising of marijuana product, including inventory lists, pricing, and product availability, by any WSLCB licensed marijuana business. Additionally, explicit offers of products, or solicitations of business, would constitute commercial speech and would fall within the regulation requirements of RCW 69.50.369(1), which all licensees should be aware of.
In summary, educational, informational or advocacy literature and/or signs which incorporate a licensee’s business trade name at events held within 1000’ of restricted entities will not be considered advertising, so long as that signage, sponsorship, and literature is non-commercial in nature, e.g., does not involve the solicitation of business, descriptions of products sold at stores, lists of products sold, or refer to prices of products.