Important Advertising Regulations Any Cannabis Business Should Know
As of May 2020, cannabis is illegal in 6 states, entirely legal in 11 states, and has mixed legality in 33 states; it remains illegal at the federal level. While it’s hard enough to keep up with the legalization laws between medical, recreational, and CBD, businesses must be up to date with advertising regulations as well.
There are incredible challenges a cannabis business faces when promoting their products, especially if they are looking to expand out of their state. What’s more, since cannabis legality is relatively new (Colorado became the first state to legalize it in 2014), many states are left playing catch-up or addressing advertising along the way.
Here are the top advertising regulations your cannabis business should know!
Advertising on Federally Regulated Mediums
Mediums such as televisions and radio can cross state lines; therefore, they are regulated by the federal government. Specifically, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for governing those industries. Since cannabis is illegal federally, it’s best to avoid ads on television and radio, even if laws are unclear about advertising on these channels.
As a general rule of thumb, stay away from running ads that may be shared in multiple states, such as certain publications or mail via the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Advertising to Minors (Those Under 21 Years of Age)
Many states are applying their cigarette and alcohol advertising laws to cannabis as well, including age restrictions. For these industries, a minor is considered anyone under the age of 21. They also all follow the 70/30 rule, which states that at least 70 percent of the advertisement’s audience must be adults.
It may be tricky to determine this percentage, and therefore placing ads where minors are allowed should be avoided altogether if possible. While this may significantly limit your options physically, it can open opportunities in the digital space.
Advertising on Digital Platforms
While there may not be any state or federal laws that restrict online advertising, digital companies sure do have their own set of rules. Here are the platform regulations you need to know:
- Google does not allow advertising for any kind of recreational drug or “legal high.” This means Google will not promote keywords or metadata that include restricted terms and phrases.
- Facebook ads must not promote the sale or use of illegal or recreational drugs. Recently, this includes CBD as well, despite it being federally legal.
- Instagram does not allow people or organizations to advertise or sell cannabis, or provide any contact information such as phone number, address, and email, but allows for a website link. Instagram is also known to take down accounts that post cannabis-related content, even if they are not ads.
These restraints may seem like the digital space is a minefield; however, there are ways to be successful. By steering clear of utilizing ad spend and employing an organic content-based strategy, you can grow your social media platform and drive website visits and conversions.
How to Start Advertising Your Cannabis Business
With changing regulations, you may think it’s best to avoid advertising altogether. However, you’ll need a marketing strategy if you want to grow your brand. To do so, work with experts in the field who specialize in marketing cannabis businesses.
At Herban Creative, we’re equipped with the knowledge and experience to launch a fully integrated digital marketing campaign. Our efforts include SEO, social media, and email. We know just how to reach your audience—while navigating online restrictions. Contact us today to learn more!
 “Map of Marijuana Legalization by States in 2020 (Medical & Recreational).” WeedNews, 14 May 2020, https://www.weednews.co/marijuana-legality-states-map/
 “Self-Regulationin the Alcohol Industry.” Federal Trade Commission, March 2014, https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/self-regulation-alcohol-industry-report-federal-trade-commission/140320alcoholreport.pdf
 “Dangerous Products or Services.” Google, https://support.google.com/adspolicy/answer/6014299?hl=en
 “Advertising Policies: Prohibited Content.” Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/policies/ads/#
 “What is Instagram’s policy on the sale of marijuana?” Instagram, https://help.instagram.com/789164081427334?helpref=related