Capitol Alert

Is it OK for marijuana businesses to advertise on their merchandise?

"Grand Daddy Purp" seen at Harborside Farms on Feb. 8, 2017, south of Salinas. Harborside Farms operates in Salinas Valley growing medical marijuana in greenhouse facilities spanning more than 52,000 square feet. Monterey County officials predict pot agriculture could bring in $30 million annually in new tax revenues to the county.
"Grand Daddy Purp" seen at Harborside Farms on Feb. 8, 2017, south of Salinas. Harborside Farms operates in Salinas Valley growing medical marijuana in greenhouse facilities spanning more than 52,000 square feet. Monterey County officials predict pot agriculture could bring in $30 million annually in new tax revenues to the county. aseng@sacbee.com

Call it the “Joe Camel” effect on marijuana.

A California Senate bill would ban state-licensed businesses from offering T-shirts, hats and other merchandise that advertise marijuana products.

The legislation, introduced by Sen. Ben Allen, builds on provisions under Proposition 64 aimed at cracking down on weed marketing that appeals to kids. It also brings marijuana laws in line with similar California rules that prohibit tobacco companies from selling or distributing apparel and merchandise with product names.

Senate Bill 162 brings up a recurring question in an era of legal weed consumption: Should we regulate pot as strictly as tobacco?

The answer likely varies based on your place on the stoner spectrum.

Nate Bradley, a lobbyist for the California Cannabis Industry Association, says the legislation treats marijuana like tobacco without acknowledging its medical benefits for people of all ages. Opponents say the bill unfairly targets and undercuts revenue opportunities for licensed businesses while allowing other retailers to sell clothes that encourage weed use.

“It’s one of those fear-based, emotion-based bills that is not fully baked,” Bradley said.

Allen cites studies that link branded merchandise to tobacco or alcohol use among teens. Given its new legal status, studies on marijuana are not as prevalent.

“It makes sense for us to extend that prohibition to cannabis, particularly as we’re getting off the ground here in this new era where cannabis is going to be legal,” Allen said. “I think we should err on the side of caution given everything we know.”

Allen pointed out that similar laws are on the books in Washington state and haven’t created major problems for licensees.

“This is not about restricting access,” Allen said. “We are trying to prevent abuse.”

Opponents have their work cut out for them. The bill hasn’t received a single “no” vote yet.

It breezed through three Senate committees before passing off the floor 40-0 late last month. The bill passed the Assembly Business and Professions Committee with a 12-0 vote earlier this week. Assembly Appropriations will likely take up the legislation next month.

WORTH REPEATING: “Recall Rendon!”

- Jon Fleischman‏, conservative California blogger, enjoying on Twitter that some liberals are angry that Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon killed the universal health care bill for the year

JOB OPENING: The five-member California Fair Political Practices Commission is down a member. Eric Casher, a lawyer appointed to the commission by former Attorney General Kamala Harris, took a job as the city attorney for Pinole and resigned his post on the board this week. Casher’s original four-year term ended in January of this year, but he continued serving on the commission to give new Attorney General Xavier Becerra time to select his replacement. There’s still no word about who Becerra intends to name as Casher’s successor. The FPPC meets at 10 a.m. today at its headquarters on J street.

MUST-READ: Here’s a breakdown of the factors that led to the demise of California’s universal health care proposal.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has received death threats.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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