Kouts: No cartoon characters advertising marijuana sales

During a work session Monday and led by Mayor Jason Kouts, third from right, the Safford City Council directs staff to include limits on the use of cartoon characters on windows of recreational marijuana retailers in an ordinance that would authorize marijuana sales. - Contributed Photo

SAFFORD — As cities and towns prepare for the sale and recreational use of marijuana, Safford Mayor Jason Kouts said he wants to make sure retail outlets are using the proper marketing techniques to reach the appropriate consumers.

“I think we should, at least, be talking about: Are we OK with cartoon characters being used? If there’s a place down on, for instance, our (Downtown) District area — Main Street — advertising recreational use of marijuana, like a cactus or something like that up there?” Kouts said.

Kouts cited the Federal Trade Commission’s prohibition on use of cartoon characters, such as the Joe Camel mascot, for tobacco marketing, and he said the city’s lawyer said the city could enact similar code. While the attorney said the regulation could be legally challenged, the attorney said he believed it could be defended.

The other members of the City Council agreed with Kouts and, during Monday’s council work session, directed staff to include limits on use of cartoon characters on windows of marijuana retail establishments in the proposed ordinance authorizing the sale of recreational marijuana. That proposed ordinance is expected to come before the council in February.

In November 2020, Arizona voters approved the sale and recreational use of marijuana by adults starting in 2021. Ten years earlier, voters approved the sale and use of marijuana for medical purposes.