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The Top 3 Scariest Marketing Tactics in the Cannabis Industry


As the cannabis industry continues to be one of the fastest consumer markets, the tactics used by niche companies and startups are becoming more main-stream, legitimized and professional. That doesn’t, however, mean that the scary tactics of old have disappeared. In fact, some have become so predominant in a constantly growing culture, that one has to wonder if the cannabis community is doing its due diligence to foster a safe and healthy community. Since it’s almost Halloween, it’s only fitting that we take a look at the most dangerous and, honestly, scariest marketing tactics some cannabis companies are choosing to use, and explain why you should stay away from using them as well.

Scariest Marketing Tactics in the Cannabis Industry

1. Using Sex to Sell

Sure, maybe if you fancy yourself the Don Draper type, and have no problem stereotyping, sexualizing and otherwise degrading women. While many like to lazily use bikini-clad women to peddle their products – or make sexual, downright pornographic innuendos to describe their brand – smart cannabis companies know that times have changed. While the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that men were 50% more likely to use marijuana than women in 2012, the rapid changes in the social and political views on marijuana has seen a rise in marijuana use among women. Now more than ever, women are using marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, spilling into the cannabis market as informed and engaged consumers.

It would make obvious sense, then, for a smart cannabis company to refrain from dehumanizing a large population of potential clients. Plus, its misogynistic and horribly sexist, and nobody has time for that.

2. Creating Marketing, Messaging, and Packaging that Appeals to Young Audiences

If you have a conscience, this marketing tactic shouldn’t cross your mind. But, for some, creating products and messaging that appeals to the young and impressionable seems like a reasonable way to go. While it would be easy to stick our heads in the collective sand and go about our own business, it’s important that – as we shape this new legal cannabis community and the brands that will become successful because of it – that we ask ourselves: are we comfortable using big tobacco tactics to sell marijuana to consumers?

The answer should be obvious. So, it would be a wiser choice to stay away from THC candies, lollipops, and cookies that are packaged in a way that would appeal to a child, essentially marketing the product as something that doesn’t have mind-altering side effects. When marketed correctly and in an ethical manner, the legalization of marijuana doesn’t increase usage among underage populations, and that is a statistic we should all work to uphold.

3. Straight Up Lying About Your Product

And then, of course, we have completely unfounded and false claims about a specific product’s effects and health benefits. Which, perhaps, is why we have seen a terrifying rise in the number of deaths caused by Spice and other types of synthetic marijuana, all sold legally and claiming to be harmless. It’s often promoted as a natural or herbal product, using buzz words to create a false sense of safety and security for consumers. It’s important that reputable cannabis brands distance themselves from these kind of tactics, that not only hurt and mislead people, but create a stigma surrounding marijuana that society is still trying to overcome.

If you’re wondering what your state’s guidelines are concerning cannabis marketing and labeling, you can check out this nifty guide, provided by Leafly. And remember, the best way to successfully market a product is to create a brand that doesn’t need sexism, lies, or morally corrupt tactics to sell.

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