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Pot Laws

Who Will Win Colorado’s Marijuana Ad Dollars?

Colorado, which decriminalized recreational marijuana last year, has become the first state to publish retail sales and marketing regulations for the virgin weed market. The new laws, detailed this week in a 136-page document, may help steer pot shop ad dollars to an unlikely beneficiary: old-school print media.

According to Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, newspapers and magazines can now legally run weed vendor advertisements, as long as there is “reliable evidence” that “no more than 30 percent of the publication’s readership is expected to be under 21.” This shouldn’t be too difficult for print media, which is suffering the blows of a rapidly graying audience.

Healthier and more-popular types of media outlets—think local television and radio stations, as well as websites—will presumably have a tougher time meeting the 21-plus age requirement, which mirrors voluntary marketing standards adopted by the alcohol industry.

Marijuana ads on billboards, taxi decals, and fliers, meanwhile, are banned under the new regulations.

Besides releasing marketing directions, Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division also laid down laws for pot shop licensing, surveillance cameras, inventory tracking, and more. Pot packaging requirements include labels bearing health warnings, and shipping containers must show complete lists of “nonorganic pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides used during the cultivation of Retail Marijuana” and a “complete list of solvents and chemicals used in the creation of any Retail Marijuana.”

Unfortunately for many buyers, Colorado’s new pot marketing rules also forbid retailers from handing out free samples.

Winter is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

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