Photo By Daniel Farò / DTS

Herb Plus | 03.09.2023

Can You Run Ads For Cannabis?

Exploring the legality and challenges of advertising cannabis.

As the legality of cannabis has expanded in many countries and states, the weed market has become increasingly competitive and as you might guess, standing out in such a competitive market is not easy.

One of the main tools that companies in any industry -including cannabis-, have to stand out is advertising. But is it possible to run ads for cannabis?

Read on to learn more about running ads for cannabis, the challenges, and what might help.

Is It Possible To Make Ads For Cannabis?

Photo By Daniel Farò / DTS

The short answer is yes, but it is more complex than it seems. Both traditional and digital media are full of restrictions and limitations when it comes to advertising cannabis.

Currently, cannabis advertising is restricted on many channels, including television, radio, and most online advertising platforms, such as Google, Instagram, and Facebook.

This is mainly due to the ambiguity of federal regulations on cannabis, which is still classified as a controlled substance at the federal level. But restrictions also occur at the state and local levels.

Not to mention that each platform or social network, including the major search engines, has its own guidelines when it comes to advertising cannabis.

Due to these strict prohibitions and limitations, it can be a bit complex for any cannabis-related business to do any kind of advertising, especially paid advertising. This is where search engine optimization, keyword usage, and the creation of quality content come into play.

Current Regulations

Currently, cannabis advertising is restricted by most federal and state regulators.

In addition, as mentioned above, many online advertising platforms explicitly prohibit cannabis advertising on their platforms. For example, some general guidelines to keep in mind include

  • Advertisements must not suggest that cannabis can treat or cure any disease or medical condition.

  • Ads should not contain elements that may appeal to children.

  • There should be no testimonials or endorsements of the products featured in the advertisements.

  • They should not show the consumption of the product.

  • Do not make false or misleading statements in ads.

Also, the regulations are not only social media policies. There are also state, local, and federal legal prohibitions. That adds to the equation to make all cannabis marketing a little more difficult.

Currently, many states require cannabis advertising to include warnings about health and safety risks and prohibit misleading or exaggerated advertising. Therefore, it is not advisable to make promises about cannabis products or to make assurances that they will have a certain health effect or benefit. These actions are heavily penalized.

Possible Regulatory Changes

Photo By Oila Danilevich / Pexels

As the legality of marijuana continues to expand at the state and federal levels, changes to advertising regulations are likely to follow.

Many marijuana advocates are pushing for advertising to be allowed online and in other media, which would allow businesses to promote their products and services more effectively.

Currently, changes are uncertain and could be either pro-legalization or even more restrictive. However, the expectation for the future is that regulations regarding cannabis advertising will be relaxed and comprehensive marketing strategies can be developed without being hindered by legal and platform-specific regulations.

Alternatives

We said that cannabis advertising was difficult, but it is not impossible. Companies can use various marketing strategies that allow them to have an organic positioning and grow smoothly in different social networks and search engines.

To achieve this type of advertising, there are many tools that can be integrated into the comprehensive digital marketing strategy, such as:

  • Search engine optimization

  • Email marketing

  • Influencer marketing

  • Referral marketing

  • Backlinks

  • Local SEO

  • Quality and educational content creation

  • UGC

These are just some of the options you have available to advertise your cannabis business, but the options are many more. For example, here are some other points you should keep in mind for running cannabis ads that could be very useful.

Keep up to date on local cannabis marketing regulations: You should always be one step ahead of the regulations. Knowing them will allow you to stay informed about what you can and can’t do when it comes to cannabis advertising.

Focus your ads on CBD, not cannabis: CBD has fewer restrictions at the federal level. This can be the gateway bridge for advertising, allowing users to reach your website and show them the full repertoire of options you have.

Programmatic advertising: Programmatic advertising is a type of online advertising that refers to an automated purchase of audience space on the Internet. It connects a brand with the user through a related ad at the right time and place. Programmatic advertising can help bridge the gap between cannabis-focused publications and more mainstream publications. Many cannabis brands can be found in cannabis-focused publications.

Learn About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Photo By Mikhail Nilov / Pexels

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the backbone of the entire digital marketing strategy, as it’s through SEO that companies can grow organically and advertise.

By using effective SEO techniques, businesses can improve the visibility of their websites and increase search engine traffic.  SEO has many variants that can be applied to a cannabis business and make a profit, such as technical SEO and local SEO.

In today’s conditions for cannabis marketing, there are thousands of brands competing for the same consumers. That’s why it’s important for cannabis brands to focus on what differentiates their brand and makes it unique. Try content that focuses on your company’s culture or values, without mentioning cannabis or its products directly.

Advertising for cannabis can be challenging due to current regulations, but there are many marketing strategies available.  By considering these alternatives and learning about SEO, businesses can promote their cannabis products and services effectively and appeal to a broad audience.

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