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7 Ways to Navigate Compliance in the World of Cannabis Advertising

Compliance

Vana began in 2017 as an app to help brands and retailers in the cannabis industry reach consumers. Since then, we have grown into an enhanced platform, a fully compliant marketing platform, giving CBD and marijuana brands the power to solve their advertising and marketing challenges in this emerging and evolving space.

The industry is moving at a fast pace and new legal questions arise every day surrounding cannabis digital advertising and marketing. But, Vana is here to help your cannabis brand navigate the complex regulatory environment of the cannabis industry. 

To guide you on your journey, we’ve condensed what we've learned about cannabis advertising regulations into seven key pointers. We’ve partnered with the National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB) and abide by their advertising standards, which are applicable to most states’ regulations. 

 

1. Put your license number on everything. 

NACB has outlined standards for the clarity of marijuana advertising and marketing messages to reassure customers that the products advertised are from legal companies, thereby protecting them from potentially harmful and illegal cannabis.

The standards suggest all products display licensee information clearly and legibly — that includes online platforms where products are marketed and sold. Thus far, the only states with a legal license requirement are Alaska and California, but Vana ensures all our advertisements and landing pages include license numbers so your brand can stay compliant and gain trust with consumers at the same time.

 

2. Clearly state that your product is for adult use only. 

This seems like common sense for all cannabis dispensaries and brands, but it’s a crucial one for future compliance and legitimacy. A number of states — Alaska, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Michigan — now explicitly require all cannabis advertisements to include an adult-use warning.

That’s why Vana addresses age appropriateness in two ways: First, we work according to the NACB ad standards, which state that all cannabis advertisements must be clearly labeled with: “For use only by adults who are not underage.” Second, we develop the audience of your brand — through compliance-based marketing, geofencing, and age-gating technology — so your advertisements are only being shown to of-age followers in states where cannabis is legal.

 

3. Include a health risk warning. 

Of course, no company wants to say its product is dangerous in any way, especially not on its advertising materials, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warnings are strongly encouraged for dispensary and marijuana advertising. Every landing page should address potential health risks, with an additional warning for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Vana also includes these on all ads, as well as the appropriate state business license number.

It’s important your brand embraces this requirement instead of trying to get around it or ignore it altogether. In such a fledgling industry where a brand’s reputation ebbs and flows, it’s vital not to be viewed as hiding anything from the public or the law.

That’s why Vana ensures every microsite built for cannabis brands in our online marketplace is built with the FDA warning located in the bottom right-hand corner of every webpage (as seen here).

 

4. Be transparent about your product’s effects. 

False advertising is a no-no in every industry. But in the cannabis industry, transparency isn’t just nice to have — it’s crucial to building trust and rapport with consumers.

According to the NACB, a cannabis brand must not make claims about the curative or therapeutic impacts of its product on health issues or diseases. You can tell consumers the kind of effects they might expect, but unless you can offer official substantiation of those claims, they must be accompanied by a warning — one that explains how effects may vary per consumer, and another that explains how your claims have not been approved by the FDA. 

 

5. Install a method of age affirmation on your website. 

It must be clear that your cannabis brand is making every effort to draw only age-appropriate customers. Not only does it keep you compliant, but it also shows your brand is a reputable and trustworthy source.

According to the NACB, a cannabis brand that advertises on a webpage must follow up that ad with a “neutral age-screening mechanism." This makes users enter their age in a pop-up box and withhold s entry for under-age visitors. This means that a mere “I am over 21 years old” checkbox is not sufficient; the user must enter their age or date of birth, unaided.

For this reason, Vana is such a valuable partner for cannabis brands: In addition to age-gating all the landing pages we build, we ensure all our digital advertisements are targeted to individuals over the age of 21. 

 

6. Maintain clear and complete records. 

Another part of becoming a trustworthy voice in the cannabis industry is being able to track where you’ve been and what you’ve done. Keeping rigorous records of all your advertising activities is part of the NACB’s standards, encouraging the tracking of all “advertisements, expenditures, and audience composition data for a period of no less than two years.”

Documenting advertising activities is also hugely valuable in giving you a picture of what is and isn’t working when it comes to advertising spend. It’s called split testing — this allows you to target ads to particular groups, pick out the most engaging formats and messages, and produce more of those kinds of ads.

That’s what we care about at Vana. Testing your ads can be tricky and overwhelming on your own — but we can handle this for you with our in-house technology solution, giving you immediate insights to increase your bottom line.

 

7. Forget about television, print, radio, and events. 

When it comes to dispensary, CBD, and marijuana advertising, the cannabis online marketplace is the most legitimate, effective outlet for your brand. The NACB requires digital advertisements to only be shown on websites with no more than 15% of its audience made up of viewers under age 21. However, a more accurate figure is 30%, as California, Colorado, Michigan, and Oregon require no more than 30% of advertisement viewers to be underage.

With the help of Vana's age-gating and geofencing technology, your brand can ensure that all its advertisements are shown to viewers who are of age. Compliance aside, digital advertising gives your brand a greater ability to screen and test the effectiveness of your ads and target individuals who will be more inclined to buy your product. 

 

Sticking by the NACB’s guidelines is a big job, but it’s vital if you want to become a trusted and ethical supplier of cannabis products. At Vana we can help you keep track easily. We cover all the legal bases so you don’t have to worry about it, while lending efficiency to your ad dollars by targeting the right consumers at the right time. 

Check out Vana at https://www.govana.com/ or request a demo.

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The Vana Team

By: The Vana Team

Vana is the leading compliant marketing platform for cannabis and CBD. We reach over 200 million unique consumers per month and offer compliant advertising and marketing solutions for brands and retailers across the cannabis and CBD industry.