Ultra Health wanted to place medical marijuana advertising on buses in Albuquerque. The ads would have been wraparounds displaying the diversity of the medical marijuana community. The slogan would have read, “Your Health. Our Commitment.”
The city has rejected the advertisements, according to Silver City Sun-News. There isn’t a law or policy directly prohibiting the advertisements either. However, the city is concerned about allowing them due to restrictions on federal grant funding and federal law.
Bruce Rizzieri of the Albuquerque Transit Division said, “The City Legal department has concluded that any advertisement displayed by the Transit Department for any sale or distribution related to medical cannabis, including THC or CBD, is prohibited by federal law, despite the state of New Mexico’s medical cannabis laws and regulations which provide limited license for distribution and patient use.”
If a company receives federal transportation grants, they can’t allow marijuana advertising. Ultra Health defended its ad design saying that advertising the products as recreational were purposely avoided.
Marissa Novel said, “It’s a health care-centric design. If we took off our logo and used the name of another health care provider, like Lovelace, I’m sure the city wouldn’t have rejected it.”
Rizzieri did say that the city may be willing to write the Federal Transit Administration for its view on the subject.
City Councilor Pat Davis disagrees with the city’s decision. He’s sent a letter to Dana Nifosi and Acting U.S. Attorney James Tierney for guidance.
Davis said, “I do not see that advertising medical cannabis (that is offered for sale pursuant to a state law) is prohibited.”
Rizzieri responded with, “Please not that this section of law prohibits advertising that seeks to illegally distribute a controlled substance. I believe that distributing medical cannabis to a state law does not constitute illegally distributing a controlled substance.”
Some states, like California, have allowed marijuana advertising on buses and no repercussions have been mentioned. Other states, like Massachusetts, prohibit marijuana advertising on public transportation. Some states go as far as to prohibit all types of marijuana advertising.