While the cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in America, cannabis is still classified as a Schedule I drug. And because Schedule I drugs are illegal at the federal level, advertising cannabis products faces a number of barriers other products do not.

5 cannabis advertising challenges other industries don’t face:

1. wait, a minute mr. postman

The United States Postal Service will not deliver anything even promoting a cannabis retailer, let alone any cannabis-related products.

2. a space made for radio

Radio ads for cannabis products are illegal federally, even if they might be legal in some of the states that allow recreational use.

3. death by taxes

Legal advertising of cannabis products still cannot be written off as a businesses expense on taxes.

4. schedule this

The federal government could technically come down on cannabis retailers and their advertising partners with felony charges for promoting a Schedule I drug.

5. it’s google’s world, we just live in it

Google does not allow the promotion of any cannabis products, even if it is for legal medical or recreational purposes.

Despite numerous (and at times varying, depending on who you talk to) regulations, digital marketing and social media currently provide some of the best advertising opportunities for cannabis products. This is due in large part to there being far fewer regulations and barriers to entry as compared to  more traditional forms of advertising, but even digital has its limits.

Google AdWords does not allow cannabis advertising – though some businesses have had success. Facebook and Instagram also do not allow advertising that explicitly promotes cannabis products, and they’ve begun to take a more active role in shutting down accounts they feel don’t comply with their Terms of Use. YouTube does allow users to upload content that promotes cannabis products, but it doesn’t allow users to run that content as the ads that play before others videos.

Cannabis advertising regulations will continue to evolve as more states move to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use. One of the best resources for cannabis businesses is the regularly updated state-by-state guide to cannabis advertising regulations from Leafly.

Despite all these challenges, marketing in the cannabis industry is not impossible, and quite a few companies have already separated themselves from the pack as industry leaders largely because of their marketing endeavors. Some businesses have broken down barriers by getting their products in traditional forms of advertising, while others have blazed news trails, by utilizing available platforms in unique and engaging ways.



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