Muni bans marijuana ads from buses, shelters


Commercial advertisements of cannabis products, services or businesses will no longer be allowed San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency property, including Muni buses, light rail vehicles and transit shelters.

The SFMTA Board of Directors voted to ban the ads on Tuesday after receiving complaints about the cannabis advertisements and the “uncertainty” of local and state regulations of cannabis businesses.

Any cannabis ads already purchased will run on SFMTA property until their contracts expire, said Gail Stein, a finance manager for the SFMTA.

Board chair Cheryl Brinkman asked Stein how the new policy would work if a medical cannabis organization wanted to just put their name on the ad without mentioning any cannabis-related products.

Stein said when one thinks about noncommercial advertisements, ads like “Drink Responsibly” or “Don’t Drink and Drive come to mind. A company could say “Use Responsibly,” said Stein.

Stein added:

“With advertising, you almost always have to see how the ad looks.”

Wilson Chu, president of the Chinese American Democratic Club, said he supported the proposal, citing concerns for students who ride to school using Muni:

“We think it’s kind of important to minimize that exposure, not to expose the kids to the recreational aspect of cannabis.”

Brinkman said the board did not want to present the proposal as a “value judgement,” and said the proposal falls in line with “standard advertising practices are.”

A SFMTA staff report said the transit agency could forego revenue shares with its vendors, Intersection and Clear Channel Outdoor, by prohibiting the cannabis ads.

In November last year, voters approved Proposition 64 that legalizes the use of recreational marijuana starting in January next year. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors are currently debating the details of proposed regulations for The City.

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