Advertisement Regulations: Cannabis Rolling Papers

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Cannabis Rolling Papers: Regulations

Federal regulations from the National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB) prohibits cannabis-related advertisements that are misleading, advertisements that are directed at children, advertisements that depict cannabis usage, and more. State regulations regarding cannabis-related advertisements differ greatly.

Some tips for navigating these regulations are: Avoid using images of smoking devices, medicinal or recreational marijuana, or depiction of the use of recreational cannabis; think outside typical SEO tactics; geofence advertisements; and use influencer marketing.

Methodology

We started the search by looking into articles containing local cannabis advertising regulations within the US. This is in order to obtain existing standard regulations. However, the search only gave us articles that contained state regulations such as "Marijuana Legalization and Advertising Restrictions in the United States" and "Cannabis Advertising Regulations: A State-by-State Guide."

We then chose to focus on specific states that legalized cannabis consumption and looked directly into the government website to see any information regarding its local regulations. The search included the government websites of Colorado, New York, Maine, and Connecticut, but the sites only contained state regulations but no specific information about particular locations in each state.

We then chose to consult each of the cities’ government websites from states that have legalized cannabis consumption such as Washington DC, Denver, and New York City. However, for New York City and Denver, their sites only led us to articles regarding news about cannabis use such as "Mayor de Blasio Calls for Fair Cannabis Legalization That Promotes Equity and Opportunity for All" and "Social Consumption. We were able to consult the document titled "The District of Columbia Municipal Regulations for the Medical Marijuana Program, for the state of Washington DC. However, the source did not contain information about the digital advertisement, and it only contained information about “sign advertisement” and “prohibited statements.” We then concluded that local cannabis digital advertisements are regulated by state regulations.

Advertising Regulations

Despite the legalization of cannabis in some states, Google still does not allow the promotion of cannabis and other related products on its websites. In addition to this, the company does not allow using keywords that pertain directly to cannabis as a way to promote the product. Moreover, many social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram put strict regulations on cannabis by using prohibited content and other drug-related policies.

Federal Level

The National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB) has declared and discussed the national standards for cannabis advertising. The organization stated that any advertisements about cannabis must include the following statements:
In addition to this, it must provide warnings upon the health risks connected to cannabis use and its risks for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Statements that say that cannabis products are safe for consumption is also prohibited. Additionally, advertisements promoting cannabis must not include misleading statements and a person that is consuming cannabis in any way. Cannabis advertisements are also not allowed to target consumers outside the states where it is licensed. It is also not allowed to promote the underage usage of cannabis products. When it comes to the digital advertising of cannabis, it must have a feature that will allow the viewer to input his or her age before accessing the advertisement itself. Pop-up advertisements on the internet that feature cannabis are not allowed. Moreover, advertisements that promote cannabis are not allowed in channels (television, print, radio, or internet) in where 15% of the given viewer population is composed of underage viewers. When it comes to representation, cannabis advertisements must take care in showing people with color, as the "advertisement is not allowed to denigrate any groups of people or people part of a specific ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, minority or others".

State Level

Cannabis is regulated and legalized at a state level in the United States, so the regulations of cannabis advertisements rely heavily on state policies about the topic. However, the states of Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, Arkansas, Michigan, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Vermont, have no legal restrictions for the advertisement of legal cannabis.

Washington

In the state of Washington, misleading cannabis advertisements are not allowed. Additionally, the promotion of the overuse of the product, and its creative and therapeutic effects" are also prohibited. A depiction and targeting of underage usage of cannabis are also not allowed. Promotional items (this includes "giveaways, and distribution of branded or unbranded merchandise") for the means of the advertisement of cannabis is also prohibited within the state.

All advertisements regarding cannabis must contain warnings about the various effects and health risks connected to cannabis. In addition to this, it must also include statements that limit its usage to adults who are 21 years old and above. This specific regulation includes various marijuana products such as "marijuana, marijuana concentrates, usable marijuana, marijuana-infused products in any form or through any medium. It also applies to promotional items.

Oregon

The state of Oregon also prohibits false and misleading statements in cannabis advertisements, and it also prohibits advertising it to children. Additionally, these kinds of advertisements must also include the risks of cannabis when it comes to the "operation of vehicles and machinery". It must also contain warnings to place cannabis the product away from children.

Furthermore, registered dispensaries are not allowed to use the authority’s name or logo in websites, in any advertisements, and social media. The authority’s name or logo may only be used as proof of registration. This regulation includes all kinds of marijuana-based products such as "marijuana, cannabinoid concentrates, cannabinoid extracts, medical cannabinoid products, and immature plants".

California

The advertisement regulations in California prohibits advertisements that promote cannabis as physical recommendation to viewers unless the ad includes a notice. It is required that all kinds of cannabis-related advertisements must have the licensee (with its license number) that is responsible for the content. When it comes to digital communications, cannabis-related advertisements may only be present in channels where 71.6% of viewers are older than 21 years old. Additionally, all advertisements must have an age affirmation to confirm that the viewer is 21 years old or older. The regulation also restricts cannabis-related advertisements that are directed towards minors in various channels such as "websites, online services, online applications, or mobile applications". All cannabis-related advertisements must not encourage the product to children. When it comes to branding, cannabis-related advertisements must not have any brand or product that is inconsistent with any statement or label with the product, it must also avoid the impression that cannabis and the usage of it, originated from some place or region unless the label has a precise designation of its origin. Practically, the regulation strictly prohibits misleading advertisements.

Nevada

The advertisement regulations in Nevada requires medical cannabis stores only to use certain names, logos, and advertisements that are approved by “The Division Administrator.” This applies to all kinds of cannabis-related facilities such as "independent testing laboratories, cultivation facilities", facilities for the "production of edible marijuana products" or "marijuana-infused products", or medical marijuana dispensaries. Additionally, cannabis stores are not allowed to have misleading advertisements about cannabis and must not depict the actual usage of cannabis may it be an older adult or child.

Advertisements must also not encourage its usage in children, and this means that appealing mediums to children such as cartoon characters, mascots, and toys and others are not allowed. Additionally, the regulation restricts cannabis-related advertisements in channels that have 30% of its audience to be less than 21 years old. In addition to this, all cannabis-related advertisements must have warnings that are implemented by the Department of Taxation. These warnings must state to keep cannabis away from children and that the use of cannabis is for only for those 21 years old and older. Furthermore, advertisements must not offer “free” or “donated” cannabis and cannabis-related products.

Montana

Montana state regulations do not allow certain individuals with valid registry identification cards to advertise the cannabis and cannabis-related products.

Colorado

Colorado state regulations prohibit any retail marijuana management to advertise cannabis-related products in channels where no more than 30% of the audience is underage. In addition to this, pop-up advertisements containing cannabis products are also not allowed. Cannabis-related advertisements are also not allowed in located-based devices (such as cellular phones) unless it can be proven that the owner of the phone is 21 years old and older. These kinds of advertisements must also have an opt-out feature. Cannabis-related advertisements must also not state that the product is safe or that it is approved by various state governments. Advertising is also not allowed to target people outside of Colorado.

Minnesota

The Minnesota state regulations allow the displaying of a manufacturer’s business name and logo on cannabis websites. However, it does not allow images of cannabis, references to cannabis, names of cannabis plants, or established medical symbols in the sites. Additionally, each website must contain various information about the manufacturer such as its name, distribution facility and its operating hours, location, contact information, the medical cannabis products that it provides, product pricing, and other information required by the commissioner. Specific cannabis-related advertisements that are not specified in the regulation must be approved by the commissioner. This applies to all cannabis and medical cannabis related products.

Illinois

The Illinois state regulation requires cannabis-related advertisements to stay within the physical parameters of the state unless it is a noncommercial message.

Florida

The Florida state regulation requires that all cannabis-related advertisements be approved by the Department of Health. It prohibits content that targets children, which means cartoon characters and such are not allowed. Additionally, advertisements in the form of pop-ups in the internet websites are not allowed, and cannabis-related opt-in marketing must have an opt-out feature.

New York

The New York state regulation requires all cannabis-related advertisements to be endorsed by the department, and this must be at least 30 business days before it is shown to the public. Advertisements are not allowed to influence patients or caregivers to use a cannabis product. Additionally, advertisements must be truthful in nature and must avoid misleading messages.

Delaware

The Delaware state regulation prohibits operators of “internet websites, online or cloud computing service, online application, and mobile applications directed to children,” to advertise cannabis.

New Jersey

The New Jersey state regulation prohibits Alternative Treatment Centers (ATC) from advertising the price of cannabis (there are some limited exceptions for this regulation).

Connecticut

The Connecticut state regulation prohibits cannabis-related advertisements from influencing the selection of cannabis-related products to patients, caretakers, physician, and any other related medical personnel. These advertisements must also include accurate information about the side effects and effectiveness of the promoted cannabis product. Additionally, cannabis prices may not be advertised, but a price list for dispensary facilities are recommended.

Massachusetts

The Massachusetts state regulation allows registered cannabis dispensaries to have their logos. However, these logos must not have "medical symbols, images of cannabis, paraphernalia, or local references to cannabis. Additionally, they cannot advertise the price of cannabis products, but they could provide a printed list of the products available. The regulation has also established an advisory board to study the advertising of cannabis.

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire state regulation allows the advertisement of cannabis on websites, as long as it uses specific information about the product. Additionally, email can be used as a medium for advertisement but only for those who are "qualified patients and designated caregivers" of someone using medical cannabis.

Maine

The Maine state regulation disallows mass marketing campaigns of cannabis-related products, as it may reach underage persons. The advertisement of cannabis-related products must not claim any health or physical benefits. The unsolicited advertising of cannabis products on the internet is also not allowed. Marketing towards location-based devices such as cellphones is not allowed unless it can be verified that the owner is 21 years old and above, and it must have an opt-out feature. Opt-in cannabis-related marketing must also have an opt-out feature. Promoting cannabis using misleading and false allegations that are appealing to children is also not allowed.

Hawaii

The Hawaii state regulation disallows cannabis dispensaries to advertise in social media, but these dispensaries are allowed to have websites that display general information about the products.

Tips to Navigate the Regulations

It is essential to avoid images depicting smoking devices, such as bongs or rolling papers. It is also recommended to avoid images of medicinal or recreational marijuana, and other images "depicting the usage of recreational cannabis". Geofence cannabis-related advertisements to areas where cannabis is legal, so it may not reach states where cannabis is not yet legalized. It is also essential to think outside simple SEO search engine tools and use tactics like landing page build-outs, or the use of Google Business. Additionally, influencer marketing has shown good results in increasing cannabis brand awareness.

Part
02
of two
Part
02

Cannabis Rolling Papers: Landscape

The number of persons following RAW on Instagram are 1.9 million. This number is far exceeding the followers of the other two brands, Element, and Zig-Zag. Elements has about 67,9000 followers, and Zig-Zag is followed by 34,400 people on Instagram. RAW’s biggest product differentiator is vegan paper, while Elements focuses on rice paper and Zig-Zag capitalizes on the expertise gained from their long history in the industry.
To adequately address this request, we began our research by searching through the companies' official websites. However, this search failed to turn up the exact startup dates for two companies and fundraising data for all three companies. What we could find was only information the growth story and brand positioning. Next, we searched for the companies' annual reports, to know if the information is contained in such a document. Again, we could not find annual reports for the three companies, likely because they are unavailable due to the private nature of the companies.
Furthermore, we searched through databases like Crunchbase, Pitchbook, and Owler for company profiles, but to no avail. Profiles for these companies were either not available or extremely slim and not providing detailed information. This is, again, likely due to the private nature of the companies.

Finally, we combed through news sites for news articles, press releases, and interviews with company CEO/founders/executives. With this, we were able to find important resources with which we triangulated data for startup dates for Elements and RAW, but no data on fundraising was found
In the case of Elements, one source gives the startup date to be around 1997; therefore, we assume that Elements was started in the late 1990s, as this article was based on an interview with the founder of Elements, and therefore, should be relied on. In the case of RAW, we were able to triangulate the startup date through an article published in 2017 that was an interview with the RAW founder. In the 2017 published article, the founder states that the company was started 12 years ago. The year 2017 (published article) — 12 years = 2005. Therefore, we assume the start date for RAW was 2005.

After carrying out an exhaustive search through credible sources, no information regarding the fundraising for the companies was publicly available. The reason could be the private nature of the companies, hence, they may have not released such information.

RAW ROLLING PAPERS

RAW'S SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

RAW's Instagram has 1.9 million followers, though they only follow 149 other Instagram profiles. Their account is public. It's Facebook profile has 142,919 "likes" and 146,304 followers, while the Twitter profile has 29.1K followers, 1,521 Likes, 5,689 Tweets, and is following 488 other profiles.
RAW's posts on Instagram focus on fun cannabis culture over product promotion and details.

RAW'S PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATORS

"RAW is truly unbleached and unrefined." The rolling papers have no element of chalk, dyes or even burn addictive. It gives allows for the natural flavor of smoke to be felt while smoking and the paper is simply made of plans and its starch. The papers are produced in Alcoy region in Spain which seems to be the first center for rolling papers. Raw's papers contain no genetically modified organisms and always has a special crisscross watermark print on it. The paper is made with a windmill, and it is gluten free and vegan-friendly. "What makes Raw's all-natural papers special is that they are made out of minimally processed organic hemp fibers that don't contain chemical whiteners, like most other papers."

RAW'S GROWTH STORY and positioning

RAW was started about 14 years ago (2005) as a project after the founder tasted an additive-free cigarette in 1993. The founder thought it wise to produce an additive-free wrapping paper for such cigarettes. In his statement, he noted that "RAW was a project that came to mind after a friend gave me an additive-free cigarette in 1993. I thought if they can make an additive-free cigarette, why can’t they wrap it in an additive-free paper? I became determined to produce and market the purest cigarette rolling papers possible." The RAW Foundation has likely improved more than 25,000 people live around the world with its various improvement projects like clean water wells, orphanages, and relief efforts. RAW's brand positioning on the website includes both a high-quality, humanitarian, and earth-friendly commitment in the production process and their final products. "RAW is authentically the best rolling paper in the world" The Raw paper was initially produced for connoisseurs who wanted a paper that wouldn't alter the flavor of whatever was being smoked. It became a vegan paper that entered the market and has gained much popularity and loyal following. Its popularity is tagged to the public personality of Kesselman. Also, the music industry has contributed to the brand's positioning positively. "The company has about 30 percent of the market in at least six states, including California, Colorado, and Oregon.

ELEMENTS ROLLING PAPERS

ELEMENTS' SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

Elements' Facebook profile has 17,074 "likes" and 17,363 people followers. Though Elements does not appear to have a Twitter profile, people are tweeting about the company's products. On Instagram, Elements has 3,055 posts, 67.9k followers, and is following 164. Their account is private.
Elements Facebook posts seem to be more understated and classy and geared towards the Gen X generation.

ELEMENTS' PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATORS

The paper aids smooth and even burns at the same time prevents runs. The paper is said to be "designed for the fire" with a perfect burn and almost zero ashes. Caramel is also created for the sugar gum burns. It does not alter the taste of the smoke when it burns. It is produced rice paper with wind power. Its product technology includes magnetic packs and its perfect fold.

ELEMENTS' GROWTH STORY and positioning

Elements' was founded before RAW by the same founder, Josh Kesselman. Around 1997 Kesselman began manufacturing Elements, a rolling paper that resembled the rice papers his Dad used to use when smoking. Elements rolling papers are produced in Spain's Alcoy Region, knowing as the birthplace of rolling papers. Elements present itself on their website as not being medical marijuana experts; however, dedicates a page on their site to links to medical marijuana resources.

ZIG-ZAG

ZIG-ZAG'S SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

ZigZag's Instagram profile has 736 posts, 34.4k followers, and is following 298 other Instagram pages. Their posts focus on images of their product and people modeling their products. ZigZag's YouTube channel has 239 followers, and the most recent video was posted in 2017. Videos seem to focus on product information and demonstration mostly.

ZIG-ZAG'S PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATORS

The differentiating factor for Zig-Zag is its long history in the rolling paper sphere. The company as far back as 1900 gained an international recognition and was awarded gold medal at the Universal Exposition in Paris. "With over 130 years of paper knowledge and unrivaled craftsmanship, Zig-Zag continues to provide a range of premium quality papers that deliver consistent superior smoking experiences."

ZIG-ZAG'S GROWTH STORY and positioning

Zig-Zag was started in 1879 by brothers Maurice and Jacques Braunstein. The production started with the making of fine cigarette paper in flat booklets. By 1894, the Braunstein brothers perfected a packaging process that allowed the papers to dispense from the booklet one at a time automatically. The product was named Zig-Zag after they obtained a patent for their invention. The company has 16% of the market in six states in US after RAW which has about 30% of the market. "During the 1960s and 70s, Zig-Zag’s popularity grew across the United States."
Sources
Sources