With the legalization of cannabis in another four states on November 8th, the cannabis industry has truly gone mainstream. Cannabis sales in the state of Colorado topped $1 billion in 2016.
The year ahead is going to be a huge one for the cannabis industry and success will largely be dictated by how well cannabis businesses advertise their products to the public.
Advertising should be a part of every cannabis business’ marketing strategy because it’s a great way to increase brand awareness and build trust with local customers.
State Advertising Regulations
That said, keep in mind that cannabis is still illegal federally and individual states that have decriminalized cannabis for recreational or medicinal use have their own rules when it comes to cannabis advertising.
Recreational cannabis states like Colorado have strict rules for advertising on the internet, for instance. The rules say that the “retail marijuana establishment” has to show that no more than “30% of the audience” for your website or blog is under the age of 21.
The aim of that regulation is clearly to limit advertising to underage audiences. Other legal cannabis states like Washington are more explicit about prohibiting advertising to minors.
In the state of Washington, cannabis retailers aren’t allowed to create advertisements that would be “appealing to children or other persons under twenty-one years of age.”
As you can see, that’s very general yet essential to keep in mind as you go about creating an advertising campaign that distinguishes you from your competitors.
Social Media Blunders
Social media outreach can increase your brand awareness and drive sales, and many cannabis retailers have even taken on social media managers to get the message out about their products. Unfortunately, social media giants like Facebook have erred on the side of caution when it comes to marijuana advertising.
Cannabis businesses have to be especially careful with posting on social media since sites like Facebook and Instagram have strict guidelines for cannabis advertising.
Facebook has essentially banned cannabis advertising on its social media platform. You’re not allowed to mention or allude to cannabis use nor can you directly advertise your cannabis product on Facebook or Instagram.
MassRoots is a great workaround solution if you have a readymade social media advertising campaign. MassRoots markets itself as the social media platform for marijuana and it requires users to affirm that they’re 21 years of age before entering the site.
Federal Marijuana Ban
Retail marijuana businesses operating in states that have legalized marijuana are in somewhat of a financial and legal limbo. Marijuana is still banned federally and considered a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
President Obama and his Justice Department created the Cole Memorandum to protect marijuana retailers advertising their products in states that legalized marijuana for recreational or medicinal use.
Questions linger about how President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions plan on dealing with the Cole Memorandum and marijuana advertising. Because marijuana is still illegal federally, marijuana advertisements are technically still illegal under federal law.