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Friday, August 27, 2010

Pot Ads on Muni? They're Already on BART -- So Why Not?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 12:01 AM

click to enlarge Coming to a Muni bus near you?
  • Coming to a Muni bus near you?
Update, 3 p.m.: Muni informs us that an ad for a pot delivery service has since been approved

SF Weekly's Chris Roberts yesterday reported that a local medical marijuana delivery service impresario has gotten his ads cleared to run on Muni vehicles.

Not so fast, says Muni spokesman Paul Rose. Yes, Kevin Reed of the Green Cross has approached Titan Outdoor, which handles Muni's ads, Rose says. But Muni and Titan are only "evaluating his proposal." According to Rose, "there are no plans at this point to post these ads."

Bummer. Or, maybe not. Advertisers hoping to work with Muni must navigate a series of restrictions; earlier this month we noted that posters for the comedy The Other Guys were edited to remove Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg's guns to comply with regulations against ads that "appear to promote the use of firearms." But a close reading of Muni's ad regulations reveals that there don't seem to be any obvious stumbling points for medical marijuana billboards.

Titan Outdoor handles advertising for both Muni and BART. And, in fact, BART has already run medical marijuana ads. Titan General Manager Heather McGuire didn't return multiple calls. But BART spokesman Jim Allison noted that it's been "at least a year" since BART began running ads for medical marijuana doctors and dispensaries. If anyone has complained, it's news to him. What's more, Allison continues, accepting medical pot ads didn't require BART to alter or amend its ad policy.

"Advertisements for medical marijuana-related services would not require any modifications to BART's existing advertising policy, he writes, "As long as the advertisement included the necessary disclaimer, i.e., the following phrase in clearly identifiable letters [72 point type for exterior displays and 24 point type for interiors (car cards)]: 'Advertisement paid for by

Unlike Facebook, which claimed medical marijuana ads depicting a pot leaf violated company policy on promoting "smoking," Muni's regulations are more cleverly written. Ads on trains, buses, bus shelters, and stations may not "promote alcoholic beverages or tobacco products." Marijuana, needless to say, is not a tobacco product. According to state law, it's medicine.

Rose told SF Weekly "there are still federal laws to consider." When asked what Muni would be considering that BART didn't already consider long ago, he said he couldn't speak to that.

click to enlarge You couldn't have an ad like this anymore. But if Peter Finnegan wanted to advertise for medical pot on Muni, that'd likely be okay.
  • You couldn't have an ad like this anymore. But if Peter Finnegan wanted to advertise for medical pot on Muni, that'd likely be okay.

Finally, while Muni regulations forbid ads for "a declared political candidate or ballot measure scheduled for consideration by the voters in an upcoming election," it wasn't always the case. Fans of the movie Dirty Harry may recall the title character hopping a J-Church during his pursuit of the Scorpio killer. Clearly emblazoned on the side of the green-and-white trolley was a billboard for supervisor candidate Peter Finnegan.

You couldn't do that anymore. And, sadly for Finnegan, the smash 1971 movie hit theaters months after the election -- in which he came up short

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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