Pot billboards near school go down
ANAHEIM - Three billboards located within a block of Magnolia High school for a network of medical marijuana dispensaries will be removed and replaced by public service announcements, officials with a billboard company said today.
The billboards were erected within the past few weeks for MediCann, a San Francisco-based network of clinics aimed at providing marijuana to patients suffering from chronic illnesses.
The billboards, located near the corner of Ball Road and Gilbert Street, originally depicted a man described as a plumber who was able to return to work after suffering from back pain because he used marijuana. The ad described the man as "A Typical Stoner," and also said "Marijuana Works."
Those billboard signs were replaced last week by others that just displayed MediCann, with the company Web site and toll free phone number.
A MediCann dispensary sits about four miles away on Ball Road and Anaheim Street.
Mike Cossota, a sales manager with Lamar Advertising, the company that owns the billboards, said advertisements for MediCann should have never gone up so close to a school.
MediCann officials did not immediately return phone calls.
Cossota said his company inherited the billboards after Lamar Advertising took over Vista Media, the billboard company that originally contracted with MediCann.
"Our company policy is not to have any adult-themed billboards next to schools or churches," he said. "We are going to take them down within the next 48 hours."
Cossota said Lamar Advertising, which operates thousands of billboards across the country, has a policy against placing any advertisements for alcohol, medical marijuana, or other content not suitable for children within 1,000 feet of schools or churches.
Lamar Advertising was unaware the billboards it inherited from Vista Media for MediCann were adjacent to the school, Cossota said.
Linda Padilla, a grandparent of a student at nearby Savanna High School, said she saw the billboards while driving by and was "outraged."
"My concern was that this advertisement was so close to the school," she said. "We're trying to send a message to our children that drugs are bad, but then they see signs like these ones."
By FERMIN LEAL
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
November 16, 2009 5:15 PM