Introduction to Cannabis Marketing
Ensuring strict compliance with all relevant advertising and marketing regulations is a key part of any cannabis compliance program.
No matter how illogical marijuana industry marketing regulations may be when compared to other industries (i.e. alcohol), businesses must do whatever they can to maintain strict compliance with relevant regulations. Marketing violations can result in serious fines, license suspension, and/or license revocation.
Before we get into some of the specifics, it’s useful to identify the underlying policy of most marketing regulations in the marijuana industry:
To prevent diversion of legal marijuana to children
With that policy in mind, let’s talk about three compliance considerations when its comes to marijuana marketing.
While age gates and other types of age verification can be helpful (and are often required), some jurisdictions require that a licensee obtain audience data before advertising. For example, in California, the regulations require a licensee to obtain:
“reliable up-to-date audience composition data demonstrating that at least 71.6 percent of the audience viewing the advertising or marketing is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older.”
Many marketing outlets are able to provide this sort of data, so be sure to ask for available audience data before spending money on paid advertising.
Use of Cartoons, Toys, Etc. in Cannabis Marketing
Marijuana companies should avoid the use of cartoon characters, toys, or any other imagery likely to be appealing to a child. This prohibition typically applies to online advertisements, product packaging and labeling, and branded merchandise equally.
Securing celebrity partnerships and endorsements can provide a branding/marketing boost, but can also expose a company to catastrophic risk. Make sure a thorough contract is in place with any influencer that sets expectations as to what conduct is and is not compliant.
Marijuana companies should also be aware that they are likely on the hook for any regulatory violation committed by an influencer while promoting client’s product or service. Improper medical claims and marketing that is attractive to children will land a marijuana business in hot water fast, just to name of a few.
Marijuana businesses should also be aware of Federal Trade Commission Guidelines for influencers in addition to their jurisdiction’s marijuana regulations.
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