Marijuana ads leave the scene

Will a recent ban on marijuana advertisement affect local dispensaries?


Hanson Lee, Staff Reporter

Prior to July of this year, you may have seen your local marijuana retailer advertising their products and marijuana plants in forms such as sign waving and other means. If so, then you may have also noticed these retailers dramatically shift their advertising campaigns over the summer.

Back in July, a Washington state law went into effect which restricts marijuana retailers from being able to advertise any depictions of marijuana products and plants. The new law also imposed a ban on any logos associated with the drug, including the symbolic marijuana leaf that you see almost everywhere nowadays. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed the bill back in May, but the recent law wasn’t initially put into effect until July 23.

Washington’s purpose behind enforcing this ban was to ultimately prevent these advertisements from becoming potentially appealing to people under the age of 21, specifically children. Whether it be a giant marijuana leaf that is displayed out on a billboard next to a highway, or a sign flipper out on a street corner, the list of what’s not allowed seems endless for in-state retailers trying to grow their businesses.    

Moving forward, this ban has significantly changed the landscape for how marijuana retailers are able to advertise their products. For the local retailers here in Ellensburg, such as Green Shelf, Fire House and Cannabis Central, this ban has had significant impacts on the way these retailers are able to grow their businesses.

“It’s just taken us a step back. The big thing is that we’re hidden off the highway, and having a sign flipper was very important for getting anyone coming off of I-90,” said Dan DeVries, who is the Cannabis Sales Manager for the Fire House retailer here in Ellensburg.

“We’re a little discreet now, which is a good thing because a lot of our customers like that. At the same time though, [we just want to be allowed to advertise and bring people into our store like any other retailer.]”

“Some retailers had to change their entire marketing plan to eliminate the usage of the symbolic marijuana leaf in their ads,” said Brittany Choyce, who is one of the store owners for the local Green Shelf retailer in Ellensburg. “That could be very costly for those retailers.”

Local retailers like the Fire House have had to find alternative ways of advertising their products effectively to the public.

“One of the main things is that everything has to be mostly done online now,” DeVries said. “We’ve basically just turned things into an online advertising realm.”

this recent ban has not only had an impact on the retailers doing business but the ban has also impacted the consumers and those that are customers to local retailers.

“Whether it be a smoke lounge or an opportunity for customers to be able to test out our products. Just being able to provide a full on experience for our customers because once [these opportunities] open up it creates a whole new aspect to the retail business,” Devries said.