March 28, 2023 09:30 am ETEstimated Read Time: 6 Minutes
Cannabis business owners will tell you that when it comes to running business ads, it is very difficult, if not almost impossible. But that has all started to change. Well, sort of. Imagine for a moment if you will: You own a legal cannabis business and all of your licenses are in order. The business is fully compliant with the many laws, rules, and regulations. The (incredibly high) taxes are paid like other legal businesses, but you’re restricted from conducting business like the other businesses. Your cannabis business is also not allowed to bank, which means no access to loans or other financial opportunities. And on top of this, your ability to advertise is either prohibited altogether, greatly restricted, or extremely limited. What do you do?
Cannabis businesses must look for creative ways to advertise. There are cannabis festivals, events, expos, and magazines all offer you great opportunities. But what about the audience you can’t reach? How do you get the attention of people who don’t know if they need your service or product yet? Perhaps running an advertisement in the local newspaper? Most likely, that’s a nope. Most papers will not run cannabis ads. Information online suggests that, despite the questionable relevancy, “newspaper advertising can target specific demographics that are traditionally more difficult to reach through other mediums. This allows advertisers to more effectively reach smaller, niche audiences, including those in specific geographical areas.”
This undoubtedly prevents cannabis businesses and services from reaching untapped markets and audiences.
Other Avenues for Advertising Cannabis
Running newspaper advertisements or any advertising for that matter requires having a good team. A team that’s familiar with current regulations, restrictions, rules, and guidelines regarding cannabis advertising. Beyond newspapers and magazines, what other options are there for cannabis businesses to advertise? Some states allow billboard ads that might be an effective way to reach a new audience. Another option that many people find appealing is advertising online and on social media.
However, this often proves to be much, much harder than one might think and is oftentimes impossible. With social media being a place to express yourself, it sure does limit how one can do this, especially when it comes to advertising a cannabis business or brand. Cannabis is usually prohibited from being advertised on social media altogether because social media is regulated by federal law. And at this point, knowing how the federal government feels about cannabis should be common knowledge. Not all cannabis is marijuana or THC and this makes things very confusing. Let’s look at what the basic rules for cannabis advertising on different social media platforms are.
Cannabis Advertising on Social Media Platforms
Meta – Facebook:
“We allow ads for Hemp products, but the following requirements apply:
You must comply with all applicable local laws and industry codes or guidelines
You can only run these ads in the following countries: Canada, Mexico, United States
Your ads can’t contain any claims to treat, cure, prevent, mitigate, or diagnose a disease or medical condition in humans or animals.”
You might think you could advertise CBD, but then there’s this. “We don’t allow ads that promote or offer the sale of the following products: THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) products or cannabis products that contain related psychoactive components, CBD (Cannabidiol) products or similar cannabinoid products such as CBG (Cannabigerol).”
Meta – Instagram:
Since Instagram is owned by Meta which also owns Facebook, the rules are essentially the same. Instagram might sound like the perfect place to advertise cannabis, but it’s not. In fact, they will flag and close accounts on you if you do. Facebook says, “Instagram doesn’t allow people or organizations to use the platform to advertise or sell marijuana, regardless of the seller’s state or country.”
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Information online from TikTok says, “We do not allow the depiction, promotion, or trade of drugs or other controlled substances. The trade of tobacco and alcohol products is also prohibited on the platform.”
Youtube is owned by Google, and when it comes to cannabis, Google says, “CBD advertisers must be certified by Google to serve ads. Advertisers are eligible to serve ads in California, Colorado, and Puerto Rico only. Certain formats, including YouTube Masthead, will not be eligible for serving.”
Yes, you can advertise cannabis as long as you meet the requirements. Earlier this year, Twitter released information saying, “As of today, in certain US states, we have taken measures to relax our Cannabis Ads policy to create more opportunities for responsible cannabis marketing – the largest step forward by any social media platform. Going forward, Twitter is allowing advertisers to promote brand preference and informational cannabis-related content for CBD, THC, and cannabis-related products and services.”
A Little Birdie Says You Can Advertise Cannabis on Twitter Now
Cannabis businesses can now advertise like other businesses on the social media platform Twitter. This is a huge opportunity for cannabis businesses to target new customers. This comes at a time when many of these businesses across multiple states are seeing declining sales. The legal cannabis industry has created a huge influx of cash into the U.S. economy. Flow Hub reports, “The marijuana industry will add nearly $100 billion to the economy.”
This means a lot of jobs and a lot of money to go around unless our elected representatives and their corporate friends have their way. A little birdie suggested to me that they want to make it so complicated to run a cannabis business that you have to have a logistics team. The fees and requirements are made to create a tough market for small businesses leaving room for corporate domination of the market as was done with so many other industries.
How Much Do Cannabis Businesses Spend on Marketing and Advertising
Cannabis businesses need customers like any other business. They deserve the right to market to these customers the same way other businesses do. Do you see cannabis ads during the Super Bowl like you do beer or crypto? Nope. Advertisers are missing out on billions of dollars because of antiquated federal regulations and outdated cannabis policy that still supports racist and greed-driven marijuana prohibition.
Statista says that in North America, “Advertising expenditures on marijuana in the region will grow from 661 million U.S. dollars in 2018 to 3.89 billion ten years later.” Just imagine what those numbers would be if the U.S. federal government were to end marijuana prohibition. Cannabis businesses spend a lot on advertising when and where they can. They could be spending even more, which will not only help more people gain access to their medicine but also provide revenue for social programs.
Ashley Priest is a patient, mother, entrepreneur, and activist that fights to end prohibition globally for a better future for all. Ashley has a passion for sharing education pertaining to the goddess plant known as cannabis. She believes that a single seed can tip the scales and that together through education we can end the stigma that is preventing cannabis from flowering to its full potential globally.
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