PUEBLO — Marijuana dispensaries in Pueblo will soon be able to expand their use of outdoor advertising.
By a 5-2 vote Tuesday night, the Pueblo City Council approved an ordinance to loosen the city's regulations on outdoor advertising. The new rules allow marijuana shops to use the terms "marijuana" and "cannabis" alone, in addition to the use of a cannabis leaf image.
The change, which will take effect in 30 days, was welcomed with open arms by local pot shops.
Heather Montelongo manages the 404 Dispensary at the corner of Fourth Street and Greenwood Street. Cars pass the building by the thousands, but little about the building's exterior tells you what's inside.
"We can't say marijuana, pricing, even what kind of products that we have on our shelves at the moment," Montelongo said.
Right now, dispensaries can use terms like "medical marijuana", "recreational marijuana" and "retail marijuana", though few do. The current municipal code also bans the use of cannabis leaves, and marijuana shops are still not allowed to post information about pricing.
Montelongo said the rules make it tough to actually advertise what they're selling.
"Education is a huge thing for us. So, just getting that kind of exposure, making sure our customers know that we are a marijuana business, that's super important for us," Montelongo said.
The rules for marijuana shops are much more strict compared to liquor stores in town, who freely advertise popular brands and pricing in windowfronts.
It's a discrepancy the marijuana industry wants to fix, saying the use of the aforementioned words and images would eliminate confusion.
Buffie McFadyen manages business development for The Spot in Pueblo.
"It also ensures transparency for the public, so there's no mistaking this is a regulated dispensary, and children under 21 years old are not allowed into the dispensary," McFadyen said.
She said the ordinance will also legitimize the marijuana industry in Pueblo, versus keeping all of it hidden behind closed doors.