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The Ins and Outs of Cannabis Digital Advertising


Cannabis has finally risen from a counterculture phenomenon to a full-fledged, legitimate industry. Global predictions suggest the sale of cannabis internationally will exceed $40 billion by 2024

So far, 33 states have jumped into the Green Rush, legalizing cannabis for medical purposes. Eleven states — many of which are considered early adopters in supporting free access to cannabis for adults — allow both recreational and medical marijuana use and consumption.

Given these facts, digital cannabis advertising should be everywhere. Yet it’s remarkably difficult to find any ads related to cannabis on the internet, leaving the industry’s potential largely unrealized. 

Confusion Reigns When States See Marijuana Differently

Although cannabis remains a Schedule I drug according to the Controlled Substances Act, which explicitly bans all advertisements of scheduled substances, states still have the right to determine under what conditions marijuana can be advertised in their jurisdictions

Could cannabis brands simply choose to handle their own marketing and stay updated on the various state laws? Absolutely! But it’s tough to know when states pass one law or repeal another. 

It would certainly be much easier if all states followed similar guidelines when approaching marijuana marketing. However, each state creates its own legal structure.  Usually, those that have legalized both recreational and medical cannabis are more open-minded when it comes to regulations, but open-mindedness doesn’t necessarily equate to simplicity or intuitiveness.

Still, most states agree on two things: Marijuana brands can’t mislead or promote false information, and their ads shouldn’t appeal to those under the age of 21. 

Using these two themes as a general foundation, states add additional guidelines as needed. For instance, in Oregon, advertisements for cannabis can’t claim to be curative or therapeutic. Massachusetts’ cannabis and CBD advertising laws specify the need for warning label language. Alaska and California expect cannabis brands to include licensing numbers on all digital advertising.

Regarding digital advertising, many states require age-gating mechanisms for cannabis brand websites to ensure that nobody under the age of 21 can view their products. Additionally, some states require digital cannabis ads to only be displayed on websites where at least 70 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older.

Some states with solely medically-legal cannabis don't have any medical marijuana advertising regulations in place. Why? Legislative bodies act under the expectation that the general population doesn't need to know about medical cannabis products. 

If this sounds difficult to navigate, it’s because it is. Yet cannabis brands shouldn’t give up their dream of earning profits. They simply need to work with a trusted advertising partner like Vana to help them realize their marketing goals and execute a plan to achieve them. 

One of Vana's biggest differentiators and the key to our success lies in what we call ‘Dynamic Compliance’. This is done through our sophisticated geographic and demographic targeting technology that ensures your brand’s marketing can be segmented by state and age. By working with Vana, your brand can rest assured that its advertisements will always be in full compliance with the law. 

Promote Marijuana Products Online Without Courting Problems

Navigating cannabis advertising online in and between states can be troublesome and frustrating. We work with the National Association of Cannabis Businesses to stay in the know for our clients and the publishers we serve. According to the NACB's advertising standards, here are a the some key pointers that will ensure your cannabis brands' advertising compliance:

  1. Put your license number front and center wherever you market and sell in order to improve consumer confidence and showcase that you’re a legitimate company.

  2. Add warnings to all advertising and digital pages about the potential health risks of cannabis use among certain people, such as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

  3. Make it clear you only sell cannabis to consumers who are 21 and older. Period.

  4. Add an age gate to your cannabis brand’s site.

  5. Record all your cannabis marketing platform solutions per recommendations from the NACB. Keep advertising spreadsheets up to date and store them safely.

  6. Focus mainly on digital advertising for cannabis because it’s too difficult to age-gate radio, print, experiential, and TV marijuana marketing.

  7. Claim only what you can scientifically substantiate about your cannabis products.

By being transparent and proactive, you can lower your brand's risk of getting fined for inappropriate or noncompliant marijuana advertising online and offline. Want to minimize your risk even further? Let a cannabis advertising partner like Vana do all the heavy lifting for you. 

Get Traction in the Cannabis Digital Advertising Industry With Vana

When it comes to the marijuana industry boom, the bottom line is that passionate consumers want information about legitimate brands. If you’ve struggled to get traction in the mainstream marketplace, let Vana work with you to learn how to advertise CBD online and other marijuana marketing solutions.

From handling health risk warnings and adding license numbers to building FDA-compliant, age-gated, and geofenced landing pages, we get your name out there in all the right ways. Currently, we work with some of the biggest, most reputable publishers in the business such as Buzzfeed, Hearst and USA Today. 

Think of Vana as the glue that binds publishers and cannabis brands together. We’ve systematically created an innovative framework that takes the guesswork and confusion out of marijuana marketing law. Not only can we execute your entire advertising campaign from beginning to end, but we also created a turnkey way to get your product to buyers, legally and transparently. 

For instance, if you have a CBD-based product, we can help you build a research-heavy landing page on our site. After reading relevant information, consumers will be redirected to your selling site of choice, such as Shopify, to select their preferred products.

On the other hand, if you sell THC-based products, we can set up a system where customers receive your items through a third-party integration solution that connects the customer to nearby retailers or delivery services. This removes accessibility problems and improves transactions without stepping into legal quicksand.

Slowly but surely, the world is realizing that cannabis is more than the outdated stoner stigma that once defined it. Vana provides a clear-cut path to work hand in hand with publishers to advertise online in all states where cannabis advertising is allowed. 

To find out how we can take your cannabis digital advertising to the next level — and assist you in overcoming the challenges native to marketing marijuana products — contact us today.

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.