In the comments, Tom Miles of Reuters asks a great question, one that I had been wondering about:
I've been thinking about the question of tobacco control legislation from the perspective of a nascent marijuana industry, and would be interested to know if any of your readers think there are lessons for plain packaging here.
I mean, I wonder if any of the arguments for/against plain packaging can be shown to be valid/invalid by applying them to the blank slate of marijuana advertising? And if so, does that affect their value in the tobacco case?
I don't know what the rules are regarding marijuana advertising, if there are any, but presumably if the legality spreads, such rules will need to be put in place. Would the same rules be applicable for marijuana, starting from zero, as for tobacco, with a century or so of advertising history?
I don't know what the rules are for marijuana sales in Colorado either, but let's say that from the moment of legalization, the law required plain packaging. Is that situation different from cigarettes, where logos/trademarks were allowed for many years, then suddenly prohibited in Australia? It kind of feels different, sort of like an expropriation, in the cigarettes case. But the TRIPS rules on trademarks aren't about expropriation, as far as I can tell. So why should this distinction matter? (Investment rules have an expropriation component, of course.)