The Golden Gate Bridge district followed the SFMTA in its ban on marijuana advertisements. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)

Golden Gate Bridge district bans cannabis ads on buses, ferries

The Golden Gate Bridge’s governing authority has banned cannabis ads on transportation property just weeks ahead of California’s legalization of recreational sales beginning Jan. 1.

That means the agency’s ferries criss-crossing the San Francisco Bay, transbay buses traversing the bridge, ferry terminals and transit kiosks will not display ads for recreational cannabis.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District is the newest local agency to ban recreational cannabis ads on its property, and follows a similar ban by San Francisco’s transportation system Muni in November.

In the Golden Gate district staff’s Dec. 15 report to its Board of Directors, staff wrote that prior to 2016, cannabis ads would be banned because the substance was illegal, but following the passage of Proposition 64 in November 2016 to legalize the drug in California, other concerns arose.

“Advertisement of legal cannabis on public facilities could encourage illegal underage use,” staff wrote.

The Golden Gate district also has a drug-free workplace policy, which may be out of step with advertising the substance. Staff wrote that murky requirements around who can sell cannabis, and who cannot, may also create a situation requiring district staff to “verify that each proposed cannabis advertisement is from a licensed vendor,” which would be an “unproductive use of staff time.”

The Golden Gate district also cited a similar justification to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in banning ads on Muni buses and trains: an uncertain regulatory environment, in light of cannabis being legal in the state but illegal on a federal level.

The vote to approve the cannabis ad ban in the Golden Gate district was opposed by one director, Dick Grosboll.

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