Cannabis Advertising Regulations

cannabis advertising regulations | marijuana marketing

Most businesses use marketing to connect with new customers and stay relevant with existing clients. A common form of marketing is advertising, which today can be utilized via many avenues. Some industries, however, do not have the freedom others do regarding options. Often similar in terms of restrictions to the alcohol and tobacco industries, the cannabis industry is subject to a wide range of advertising regulations. State laws on cannabis advertising widely vary from ones that regulate marketing cannabis strains to marketing marijuana in general; this article explores some of these variances, which are current as of early November 2021.

Medical vs. Recreational Cannabis Advertising

As an obvious point, states where both medical and recreational cannabis remain illegal generally do not have specific rules around marketing marijuana as all associated information is not allowed. Currently, these areas include American Samoa, Idaho, Kansas and Nebraska. Further, many states are still working on their official stance, therefore, regulations are pending for either medical, recreational or both. These states are Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Maryland and Texas. The states of Arizona, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont do not have regulations around advertising for cannabis.

The states with multiple regulations are Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington state. Common themes include bans on misleading information, very specific parameters concerning building signage, marketing cannabis strains individually, and not appealing to minors (those who are under 21 years of age). Several states also require approval of all advertising by state officials before launch.

State Laws on Advertising Cannabis

Other states have chosen to pick their battles more specifically and establish minimal, although equally important to be followed, regulations. For instance, Delaware has addressed allowable ways of advertising, and Washington, D.C. has established that neither advertising nor pricing are allowed in dispensary windows, as well as illuminated signs. Hawaii regulates signage to specific boundaries, and does not allow cannabis or associated products in public windows, while Illinois and Montana have minimized confusion by not allowing advertisements in any form or through any medium. Meanwhile, Nevada has not minimized potential confusion, by decreeing the “Administrator of the Division” must approve all names, logos, signs and advertisements. Finally, although New Hampshire is open to adding new rules, currently, the only advertising restrictions are the prohibition of misrepresentation and unfair practices.

Marketing Cannabis Strains and Specific Details

While regulations on cannabis advertising are typically generalized, some states have established very fine details for compliance. For example, Massachusetts has noted registered medical dispensaries may not have illuminated exterior signage EXCEPT for a period of 30 minutes before sundown until closing, in addition to complying with local sign requirements. Neon signs of all kinds are also prohibited here. In New Jersey, alternative treatment centers shall restrict signage to black text on a white background on external signage, as well as on all labeling and brochures for that specific center. Oregon also aims for zero confusion by requiring registered dispensaries to create their exterior entry sign in only Times New Roman font, bolded and 80 point size.

Establishing Laws on Marijuana Marketing

As states legalize medical and recreational cannabis, surrounding laws and regulations must also be established. With industry advancement at a continuous pace, rulings are subject to changes and amendments. The state of Missouri, for example, is now considering updates to some of its advertising regulations pertaining to bans on advertising discounts for medical cannabis. Newly submitted drafts would legally allow promotions, with the caveat of a disclaimer, reading “Medical decisions should not be made based on advertising. Consult a physician on the benefits and risks of particular medical marijuana products” which must be published alongside each advertisement.

Andrew Mullins, executive director of MoCannTrade, said in a recent statement he appreciated the Missouri “DHSS’ (Department of Health and Senior Services) willingness to listen to Missouri’s hundreds of licensed medical cannabis business operators – and most importantly, the more than 152,000 patients and caregivers who were harmed by the former rule. Because Missouri’s medical cannabis program has so many product and location options, it is absolutely essential that patients have accurate, timely information and education that allows them to make good health decisions,” Mullins added, “and that’s exactly what this rule rewrite will allow them to do. Robust patient education is crucial to the program’s continued success and we are thankful DHSS recognized and acted on patients’ behalf. The program is stronger today for that responsiveness.” Public comment on the marijuana marketing draft will be open until November 18.

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