No matter which legal cannabis state you’re in, one of the most important parts of the legal language to understand is the sections of code related to cannabis advertising. This language applies to anyone in the business of promoting cannabis products online and offline and it differs per state. For the purposes of simplicity, this post will focus on California law.
MAUCRSA authorizes a licensee to advertise and market cannabis and cannabis products subject to specified restrictions, including accurately and legibly identifying the licensee responsible for that content by adding, at a minimum, the licensee’s license number, and prohibits a licensee from, among other things, advertising or marketing in a manner that is false or untrue. Under MAUCRSA, each licensing authority is authorized to suspend or revoke a licensee’s license for failure to comply with these provisions, among other things. Source: AB 2899
Cannabis Advertising Five Seeds of Wisdom
- Your License Number Must be Visible: One of the things that will put an advertiser in immediate violation of state regulations is the absence of a license number in the ad. All advertising of cannabis products and services must include a license number. This applies to all channels, digital and traditional broadcast and OOH.
- Target your Demo: Advertising campaigns can only be launched where more than 71% of the population is 21 or older. This requires taking a look into the census data and geotargeting your campaign to areas that meet the requirement.
- Tell the Truth: Campaigns must be truthful and claims substantiated. Nothing can take down your reputation faster than a published lie. Take the time to deconstruct your campaign before you launch it. Ask yourself if there’s any part of it that can be refuted. This self-check could save your license since the state is actively monitoring how these products are being messaged to the community.
- Use the Label as your Guide: The messaging in a campaign should mimic the information on the product label. If the label is used as a guide, the message will be consistent and it will help the advertiser maintain state compliance with their campaigns by avoiding misleading statements.
- Keep it Adult: Cannabis advertisers need to remember that their content is for an adult audience. Therefore, ads cannot be designed to appeal to children in any way. Websites need to employ a widget to verify age and social networking and community building should be focused on adults over the age of 21. OOH advertising cannot be within 1,000 feet of a facility that serves children, i.e. school, daycare, playground, or youth-oriented organization.
Compliance is Key
As we navigate the new landscape of legal cannabis, advertising is going to be front and center. Those who do it right and within the legal guidelines of their respective state will be rewarded with brand exposure. Those who fail to consider the state’s requirements can run the risk of losing their license to operate. That’s a big stick that no one needs to be beaten with, as long as cannabis advertising is done right.