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Colorado hashes out weed advertising rules

Colorado hashes out weed advertising rules

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State looks to shield minors from marijuana marketing as tax debate gains momentum

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The Colorado Department of Revenue this week released a 136-page document detailing how the state will regulate retail sales and marketing of recreational marijuana. The document, published Tuesday, makes clear that weed vendors will be able to advertise on statewide television, radio, and newspapers, though they'll be subject to certain constraints. Both Colorado and Washington decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana in ballot measures last year.

Under the regulations, marijuana retail outlets will be able to buy ads in state newspapers as long as they have "reliable evidence" that no more than 30 percent of the publication's readership is under the age of 21. The same goes for ads taken out on radio and TV. Pot vendors are prohibited from buying out-of-state ads and promoting drug tourism, though they can advertise on the internet under the same demographic constraints that apply to print, radio, and TV.

Public ads are prohibited under new laws

Billboards and other forms of public advertising are banned under the Marijuana Enforcement Division's regulations, though as the Atlantic Wire notes, weed ads have already begun popping up across the state. Earlier this month, a pro-marijuana billboard appeared outside Denver's Mile High football stadium ahead of the Broncos' season opener, and others have appeared on taxi decals.

The regulations come amid ongoing debates in the Colorado legislature about how to tax retail sales of marijuana. A ballot initiative currently under consideration would levy a 15 percent excise tax and 15 percent sales tax on recreational weed, while an initiative in Denver would add a 3.5 percent local tax that the city could increase to 15 percent.

The proposals have raised concerns among pro-weed groups and consumers, who see the taxes as prohibitively steep. A protest was held Monday in Denver, where tax opponents handed out free joints to all in attendance. No arrests were made.

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