PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Three billboards advertising a Pawtucket marijuana dispensary were taken down in response to an order from the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation.
Mother Earth Wellness put up the billboards along I-95 last week to show drivers which exit to take to get there. All three were removed Sunday night by owner Joe Pakuris.
Pakuris told 12 News he believes he is legally entitled to have the billboards.
The state has an advertising ban on marijuana businesses that is connected to their licenses.
Dispensaries in Massachusetts are free to advertise there, as well as in Rhode Island. Multiple billboards for Massachusetts dispensaries are within view of Mother Earth Wellness’s location.
“If I would have kept those billboards up, they could have suspended my license and I would have had to lay off my entire staff and potentially put us out of business,” Pakuris said. “It’s just bad business.”
A day after Pakuris put up the billboards, the DBR sent him a letter threatening a fine of $10,000 per day unless they were removed.
In April, the DBR sent a letter to lawmakers in support of bill that changes advertising regulations for Rhode Island marijuana retailers.
“This will level the playing field for in-state business and better reflect the new reality of the adult-use market here in Rhode Island,” the letter reads.