Cannabis Marketing Restrictions: How to Advertise in a Highly Scrutinized Industry — Rise

In many parts of the world today, cannabis use is still largely considered an illegal act, at least for non-medical purposes. The places that allow it still set caveats on its legal use and install measures to keep its use in check. One effective way to curtail its consumption is to stop people from spreading the word about it. Hence, the bodies charged with regulating the use of cannabis target the advertising industry.

Internet marketing for weed is a growing market segment with vast potential for reaching large audiences. Regulatory agencies know it is a hunting ground for cannabis sellers to ply their trade. Hence, they ramp up surveillance on the internet and place strict rules concerning their marketing.

This delicate situation has brought increased scrutiny to the cannabis trade, with regulations bordering on its production and promotion. The information in this article will help cannabis sellers safely navigate the murky waters of cannabis marketing. Here, we examine the most significant marketing restrictions in the cannabis sector.

Product Information On Websites

One of the easiest ways to get in trouble with regulatory agencies is to make false or exaggerated claims about your cannabis products. Most cannabis sellers run a product website where they promote their products. While they’re at it, they must be particularly cautious while curating the content on the website.

Your product description should be precise and clear and typically include the correct type and dosage of ingredients used. Make sure to include essential details like the exact THC content of every product. And if you make any claims about the medicinal applications of your products, be sure to back them up with strong, relevant research. Failure to do so will result in appropriate sanctions.

The Use Of Testimonials

Cannabis internet marketing is an effective way to sell your products, but it also demands that caution be applied.

Customer endorsements provide an easy avenue to highlight cannabis wares. Testimonials are an excellent means to spread the word about the potency of your products, but while you’re at it, you should know the lines you must not cross.

You’ll have to avoid including any testimonials that make unverified claims about the medicinal benefits of using your products. Your website will register on the wrong side of the FDA radar if you start promoting your products as a cure. If you can not resist the temptation, you should avoid adding testimonials to your website altogether—otherwise, curate with the utmost caution.

Google Ads

Google ads are a tricky route to navigate. The roadblocks present themselves in the form of federal law, under whose jurisdiction a cannabis company falls. Your ad copy would typically include only those terms associated with hemp, hemp oil, and other hemp extracts, but that’s as far as you can go. Any step further will land you in hostile territory, possibly, resulting in the revocation of your license. Using keyword planning resources, you can bypass these obstacles, but it’ll require expert SEO input.

Social Media Ads

Many of the top social media companies place strict rules on promoting cannabis products on their platform. Once their AI spots any wording in your content even remotely related to the promotion of cannabis, they’ll flag your account for possible banning.

Cannabis advertising counts as an infraction of federal social advertising policies. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are no-go areas for cannabis advertising because these companies are all governed by federal law. You may work around it by using carefully curated wording in your posts that do not explicitly highlight any cannabis-based keyword. Again, use extreme caution or consider skipping this advertising channel altogether.

Other Cannabis Advertising Channels

Billboards

Before considering billboards and other outdoor advertising platforms to promote your products, you must do some vital work before plastering any cannabis-related content. First, and most importantly, check the legality of cannabis in the city/state/municipality where the billboard stands.

It doesn’t end there. The billboard company may request your license before starting negotiations with you. They may even go as far as to suggest the design and wording of your ad content. Your visuals would be flagged for any barred words and imagery. The revision process may be taxing, but it is a small price to pay for the extra visibility that your products will attract.

TV Spots

With TV cannabis advertising, you have to know all about the fine print of what is forbidden and permitted. The rules might differ across various states, depending on the legal status of marijuana in that state. The audience also plays a part. Most TV platforms will not air your ads in their programs if more than 30% of the audience is under 21 years of age.

Millions of households will potentially see your paid promotional ads. With extra exposure comes extra scrutiny. There’s a fine line between promoting your products and falling foul of the law. It would be best to avoid displaying any cannabis-related imagery or marijuana plants in your ads to avoid any dire consequences.

Minors and Child-Sensitive Content

You don’t want to imagine seeing Spongebob rolling a joint in front of your kids or that they flip a page in their comic only to find their favorite characters in the act. Whether you’re using magazines, journals, or TV programs to promote your products, avoid displaying anything that would appeal to kids. Most promotional outlets will only allow the display of cannabis ads to a select age-grade audience. At least 70% of this audience must be 21 or older in some states. Avoid this type of audience in all your mass/print media cannabis ads.

Conclusion

Loved and loathed in nearly equal measures, cannabis use is a divisive subject in most parts of the world. Its delicate nature informs the decision of most governments and their regulatory agencies to subject it to intense scrutiny. Hence, those who intend to promote cannabis products must know the potential pitfalls to avoid while marketing it.

The marketing regulations that apply to the cannabis trade also prescribe penalties for the violations of their rules. Knowledge of these rules and provisions will help its marketers safely advertise their products and they can do so while staying on the right side of the law.

Maximilian Juhasz
Guest Contributor

Max got started in digital marketing back in 2014. With almost 20 years in sales and marketing, it only made sense to jump head first into the future. He is the founder of DopeSEO, a cannabis digital marketing company. He has worked with a number of high-level CBD and cannabis companies. After seeing the results he could create for his current clients, it only made sense to exclusively focus his energy on the cannabis industry.

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