Cannabis store signs to come under local control

Alexandria Osborne

WNPA News Service

Cannabis stores may be able to display larger outdoor signs if they comply with local ordinances rather than statewide regulations from the Liquor and Cannabis Board under a proposal in the state Legislature.

Vicki Christophersen, Washington CannaBusiness Association Executive Director, said the bill does nothing to change the LCB’s authority to regulate the content of the signs, whether it be a billboard or a sign on the store.

What the bill does is make regulation of the sign’s size and the number of signs subject to local laws, she said.

“Everything else regarding content, information that could be appealing to children, all of those things remain in place,” she said. “This allows retail stores to have their store signs regulated based on how signs are regulated for other retail establishments in their community.”

Under current law, licensed cannabis retailers cannot display any signs outside of the licensed premises, other than two signs identifying the retail outlet with the business name that state the location and nature of the business.

Current law states signs cannot be more than 1,600 square inches and need to be permanently attached to a building or structure. They are subject to other requirements established by law, including restrictions on depicting cannabis products or images appealing to minors.

LCB rules specify the text and images allowed on outdoor advertising. Outdoor advertising and billboards are currently prohibited in specific locations, including stadiums and malls.

Senate Bill 5363, by Sen. Drew MacEwen, R-Shelton, would remove the state requirement for outdoor signs of cannabis retailers to be less than 1,600 square inches in size.

Scott Waller, Washington Association for Substance Misuse and Violence Prevention board member, said University of Washington research showed that some of the most powerful predictors of substance use in youth are the community norms they see and experience.

These norms include the size, appeal and signs for products like cannabis, he said.

Most local cities and counties have laws regulating how local business signs get approved, but there is a difference between what is sold in a cannabis shop and what is sold in other stores, so a difference in signage is needed because of that, he said.

But, MacEwen said SB 5363 addresses inconsistent law enforcement across the state when it comes to cannabis advertising.

“We’ve had this long enough legalized in our state that I think we’re mature enough to handle things at the local level,” he said.