Marijuana Marketing Making Us Dizzy and Confused
This post on marijuana marketing was contributed By Fae Savignano, EVP, Marden-Kane Digital.
In the United States the use and possession of marijuana/cannabis is illegal under federal law for any purpose. However, the legalization of marijuana by U.S. jurisdiction (State law) is on a roll! As of this date, the medical use of marijuana (with a doctor’s recommendation) is legal in 33 states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts. Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. The recreational use of marijuana is legal in 10 states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia. And most recently, marijuana is now legal in Canada!
Businesses in this industry such as marijuana growers, distributors, dispensaries and more want to make their presence known by promoting and marketing to increase their sales, garner new customers, and encourage loyalty and retention. But keep in mind that this is a highly regulated industry, just like the pharmaceutical, alcohol, cigarettes/nicotine products, finance, insurance, and gambling industries. However, what differentiates the marijuana industry from the list above is that it’s still illegal at the federal level.
So with that in mind, you have to be very aware of all the restrictive local and state laws relating to marketing and advertising marijuana and marijuana-related products; which in so doing may limit your ability to actually achieve your marketing goals online and offline. Here are some of the restrictions that are common among most states in limiting the marketing of marijuana businesses and products:
- Don’t advertise to people less than 21 years of age.
- No marketing to children, which also means no using toys, inflatables, cartoon characters, or anything else that appeals to children in marketing efforts.
- No mascots (human, animal, or mechanical such as inflatable tubes, people in costumes, or sign spinners).
- Don’t have “conspicuous” advertising.
- No advertising marijuana products within 1,000 feet (or another specific distance) of a school or area where children often spend time, which often includes television, radio, or print ads that could be seen, heard, or distributed in those areas.
- No advertising on public or private vehicles.
- No billboard advertising (some states make an exception for marijuana retailers).
- No indoor advertisements unless minors are not permitted in the facility.
- No advertising in arenas, stadiums, state fairs, shopping malls, arcades, and farmers markets.
- Provide warnings.
- All ads must include text that says marijuana products can only be purchased by people who are 21 years of age or older.
- NO Contests or Sweepstakes allowed in some states.
Marijuana marketing challenges aren’t going to disappear any time in the near future. Rules will still vary from state-to-state. So when it does become legal to run a Promotion, here are some of the guidelines you should consider (which are subject to change as more information becomes available):
- Entrants must be 21 years of age or older
- Open only to States where marijuana is legal
- If open to medicinal marijuana states only, then entrant will be required to show proof that they are able to purchase same
- Marijuana (in any form) cannot be awarded as a prize
- You cannot require a purchase of marijuana (in any form) to enter
- Do not advertise/promote via the mail (direct mail, etc.) as mailing implicates interstate commerce
- Do not advertise/promote via Facebook or Google
- Avoid promoting marijuana products and services directly
- Follow all applicable Federal, State and local laws.
The fast growing marijuana business and culture is growing in leaps and bounds and cannot be ignored. Before executing a promotion on your own, please reach out to the experts.
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