With more than half of the United States legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, advertising for weed and weed-based products has become something of a hot topic for marijuana dispensaries. What are they allowed to advertise and where? What can they include on their tax reports? Should they worry about fines if they try to promote their product? Here’s what you need to know about advertising a cannabis businesses.
Even in states where cannabis is legal, weed businesses that want to advertise their products and services have to tread lightly. Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug by the federal government, which means it’s treated harshly by federal law enforcement and regulatory organizations. It’s also closely controlled by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
So what are the big things businesses have to keep in mind when considering advertising their services? Here’s the basic list:
As a Schedule I drug, marijuana falls under this portion of the law, making it illegal for newspapers, magazines, handbills or any other publications to advertise for marijuana. If the USPS identifies any such advertisements distributed through the U.S. mail system, they are legally obligated to contact the Department of Justice. Due to the widespread public backlash, however, we could see this restriction modified shortly.
On top of these legal restrictions, there are many advertising restrictions imposed by the FTC. The FTC’s regulations primarily require advertisements to follow ethical guidelines. These include:
Marijuana businesses, therefore, are both morally and legally obligated to avoid advertising to minors. This includes placing age restrictions on websites for marijuana dispensaries. Some states have even prohibited the placement of public ads like billboards and posters altogether. Placement of ads near schools is particularly illegal.
These restrictions and regulations have obviously limited the advertising capabilities of many marijuana businesses throughout the United States. Both medical and recreational dispensaries want to be able to set themselves apart from their competition, but doing so requires ad dollars and a solid advertising platform. To get around these restrictions, dispensaries have had to get a bit creative.
If you want to start advertising for your marijuana business, try to keep the following in mind:
Advertise using a dedicated website for your dispensary and work with other sites, like www.marijuanadoctors.com, to promote your business. The one thing you should avoid, however, is digital pop-up ads. Since these are not age-restricted, you could accidentally advertise to a minor, violating FTC regulations and breaking Colorado state law.
The future of marijuana in the United States is improving, but the legal confusion surrounding weed is still a barrier for many businesses. While our representatives discuss the particulars of federal versus state law, the cannabis industry has to take action and establish standards for appropriate marijuana advertising.
The alcohol industry has done much the same in the past, self-regulating to determine acceptable advertising standards. If marijuana businesses banded together to do the same, they could combat the confusing laws of the United States government while also improving advertising reach and protecting minors from undue influence.
The laws concerning medical marijuana is constantly changing as national attitudes toward weed continue to improve. We’re here to help you navigate the legal loopholes and developments. Learn more about marijuana law by browsing our blog.