Advertising Weed in Massachusetts? Make Sure You Know The Rules:
1. Your logo cannot contain medical, marijuana, paraphernalia, or colloquial references.
2. At least 85% of your audience must be age 21+. Fun Fact: California requires that the audience be 71.6% over 21, and all the other adult-use states only require 70%.
3. Advertising must contain numerous health and safety warnings as dictated by the regulations.
4. No claims of being safe, or of medical/therapeutic benefits.
5. No cartoons, mascots, or other means deemed appealing to the under 21 crowd.
6. Websites must verify the age of the entrant.
7. No ads/branding on clothing, cups, drink holders, apparel accessories, electronic equipment, sporting equipment, novelty items or “portable promotional items”
8. No discounts, coupons, or free cannabis.
9. No deceptive or false adverts.
10. No misleading statements about other licensees.
11. * This is not a complete list* Please refer to the CCC regulations or speak with an attorney regarding cannabis ads.
Most other adult use states have similar regulations. But here’s a few interesting outliers:
In California, an advertisement cannot create the impression that the cannabis originated in a particular place or region, unless the label of the advertised product bears an appellation of origin, and such appellation or origin appears in the advertisement. This blog wrote about appellations previously here.
In Oregon, ads cannot encourage the use of marijuana because of its intoxicating effect.
And in Washington state, a separate business must be set up in order to sell branded non-paraphernalia merchandise like t-shirts, but it’s fine to sell branded paraphernalia in a licensed retail store (picture a pipe with the store’s name an logo etched on it).
Cannabis Advertising on Social Media
Given the highly restrictive regulations for traditional advertising, it’s not surprising that cannabis companies are turning to social media. Instagram is a favorite for weed because of the focus on images and the favorable demographics of Instagram users.
The Pew Research Center recently reported that 69% of American adults use Facebook, 37% use Instagram, and 22% use Twitter.
These platforms come with their own hazards for cannabis. Sites like Instagram are known to shut down marijuana accounts without notice or explanation. The official Instagram policy on the sale of marijuana is:
Instagram doesn’t allow people or organizations to use the platform to advertise or sell marijuana, regardless of the seller’s state or country. Our policy prohibits any marijuana seller, including dispensaries, from promoting their business by providing contact information like phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses, or by using the “contact us” tab in Instagram Business Accounts. However, we do allow people to include a website link in their bio information.
However, there are many anecdotal reports of accounts being suspended or deleted without apparent violation of Instagram’s policies. Allegedly, many of the take-downs are the result of competing companies flagging accounts in order to have them removed.