Cannabis advertising isn’t something that you saw too often a few years ago. However, today you can see advertising in places such as grocery stores or hair salons. While most of this advertising is for non-psychoactive CBD hemp products, there may have been cannabis advertising that you saw and didn’t even know. This is because in the 33 states that have medical cannabis programs, the 10 states that also offer legal retail markets as well as across the entire nation of Canada, there are strict regulations when it comes to how cannabis brands can and cannot advertise their products.
U.S. Cannabis Advertising Regulations
In the United States, cannabis is still a federally illegal substance. The only exception to this is CBD products made from industrial hemp. However, even these products face stringent regulations regarding cannabis advertising. In general, cannabis companies within the United States can provide facts for consumers but are not able to display individuals consuming cannabis or the cannabis plant itself on any advertising.
Canada Cannabis Advertising Regulations
In Canada, where both recreational and medical cannabis is legal, brands are facing heavy restrictions on advertising. The Canadian Cannabis Act states that cannabis brands can not advertise through print or mail campaigns. It also prohibits cannabis advertising on billboards as well as on TV and prohibits endorsements by celebrities.
In addition, brands must steer clear of any advertising that would link excitement or glamour to consuming cannabis and cannot include or suggest any daring or risky behaviour.
Cannabis Advertising Done Right
With all of that in mind, you’re probably scratching your head asking yourself how brands can advertise? The answer to that is very creatively and responsibly. A prime example of a cannabis brand that implied both creativity and responsibility in cannabis advertising is the US-based MedMen cannabis dispensary brand and their #forgetstoner campaign which was very thought-provoking yet as simple as can be.
On a series of billboards, MedMen displayed individuals throughout the cannabis culture from a wide variety of careers and lifestyles. It presented everyone from the nurse that cares for your family, the coach that teaches Little League baseball, to the beloved grandmother in your community. By doing so, this campaign took the stigma out of stoner and helped to normalize cannabis to the masses.
Brands Take Note
When it comes to advertising in the world of cannabis, there are a few things that brands should keep in mind. First and foremost, you must stay in compliance with local laws. After all, if your business gets shut down because you did something wrong, your advertising is null and void. The second most important thing is to remember that this plant still faces stigma and we need now more than ever to give cannabis positive PR.
Lastly, cannabis isn’t just bongs and tie-dyed t-shirts. Cannabis brands need to find unique and thought-provoking ways to connect with the demographic that will benefit from their products the most. Cannabis is now being recognized for the medicine that it is and also getting credit for being able to help our environment through products such as hemp-based building materials.
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