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.
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.
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.
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:
- “Cannabis products are only for adults (as required by state law)”
- “Cannabis products for medical use are just allowed for authorized patients.”
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".
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.
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.
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".
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.
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 state regulations do not allow certain individuals with valid registry identification cards to advertise the cannabis and cannabis-related products.
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.
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.
The Illinois state regulation requires cannabis-related advertisements to stay within the physical parameters of the state unless it is a noncommercial message.
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.
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.
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.
The New Jersey state regulation prohibits Alternative Treatment Centers (ATC) from advertising the price of cannabis (there are some limited exceptions for this regulation).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.