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Anywhere you drive in America, you are bombarded by strategically placed signage advertising a plethora of products to consumers on their daily commutes. Major retail chains and event centers advertise on billboards, along with alcohol and pharmaceutical companies.
Businesses are allowed a certain amount of signage according to their community standards and never fail to utilize all available space. One look at a store and you cannot only tell what kind of store it is, but the quality of the store and the products they sell. Most businesses advertise their biggest selling items. The average convenience store’s windows are masked in tobacco and soda advertisements, with extra signs littering their parking lots boasting the lowest beer prices in town.
On the corner of many busy intersections you will notice “sign-spinners” – these are people hired to catch your eye with bright, bold and moving advertisements. From time to time you’ll also find uniformed store employees trying to convince you to come to them for your high-dose flu vaccine.
But there still seems to be one advertising taboo: advertising medical cannabis or that you are a dispensary. Even with the most discreet signage at a dispensary location, offense is taken. City councils in medical marijuana states are constantly fielding complaints about what their local dispensary looks like and how this inconveniences their eyes every day. Complaints are made about logos ranging from green crosses to brightly–lit neon pot leaves. No matter how a dispensary seems to declare their business is open and ready for clientele, someone in the community around the club is displeased.
But the question is, why are people so offended by medical cannabis advertising?
The answer is simple: the average citizen is still barely tolerant of and not entirely open to medical cannabis, let alone the attached culture that has been stigmatized and disparaged by conservatives for decades. Patients, producers and providers share the same label no matter how they go about conducting their business- “Pot Heads.”
Coors and Keystone proudly buy up advertise space all over communities, and local businesses add to the alcohol-laden advertising litter. Where are the city council meetings discussing the removal of these questionable advertisements? Do they not influence our children as they pass by as people claim that neon pot leaves do? I find it difficult to believe that a green cross is actually more revealing about the nature of the business than a gigantic bottle of whiskey is or a tower can of Copenhagen. Do these same upset citizens also feel the same way about their children being exposed to pharmaceutical drug access each time they enter Wal-Mart or Rite-Aid?
Here I will discuss a normal everyday business in the manner that dispensaries are often discussed.
In the local township of Pendleton Oregon, the busiest intersection in town has 4 conglomerate chains one on each corner. These stores are Wal-Mart, Safeway, Rite-Aid and Walgreens.
Each one of these stores is home to a highly-trafficked pharmaceutical drug dispensing operation. There are people of all types that traverse in and out of these large buildings daily. The quantity of dangerous drugs stored in these places lands in tonnage. It is estimated that the daily revenue earned in the trafficking of these pharmaceuticals and narcotics skyrockets into the hundreds of thousands a month. These drug salesmen also conveniently provide access to other dangerous intoxicants such as caffeine, nicotine, and ethanol alcohol to their clients. These opportunists also willingly hand out these toxic drugs to children and disabled people with little or no discussion of the potential side-effects and dangers inherent in the products.
Let’s look at the facts according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
In 2010, 30,006 (78%) of the 38,329 drug overdose deaths in the United States were unintentional, 5,298 (14%) of suicidal intent, and 2,963 (8%) were of undetermined intent.
In 2011, drug misuse and abuse caused about 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits. Of these, more than 1.4 million ED visits were related to pharmaceuticals.
Between 2004 and 2005, an estimated 71,000 children (18 or younger) were seen in EDs each year because of medication overdose (excluding self-harm, abuse and recreational drug use).
Of the 22,134 deaths relating to prescription drug overdose in 2010, 16,651 (75%) involved opioid analgesics (also called opioid pain relievers or prescription painkillers), and 6,497 (30%) involved benzodiazepines.
That parody paragraph above is shocking- though it really is not parody. Most do not discuss a pharmacy in this nature, but it is a reality. This is, though, how news media and community leaders talk about medical marijuana dispensaries publicly.
Maybe it is time for communities to step down from their crusade against Cannabis and Cannabusiness and set the tone by promoting acceptance and understanding. A cannabis industry business owner should have no more advertising regulation than their commercial counterparts.