Where Does Marketing & Advertising Cannabis Stand in 2018?
With rumors circulating that the legalization of marijuana could take place as soon as July 2018 there is more interest than ever in understanding the marijuana industry from a legitimate business perspective. Already licensed cannabis producers have seen tremendous success on the public markets and new niche-hemp products are hitting the market every month. Efforts in 2016 and 2017 to discuss the regulation of marketing and advertising marijuana culminated in the distribution of Adult Use Cannabis Advertising and Marketing Self-Regulatory Guidelines for Licensed Producers report in November 2017. These Guidelines apply to advertising of marijuana in all types of media, including print, television, radio, out-of-home, digital, and social media platforms.
Here Are the Rules to Abide by When Marketing & Advertising Cannabis
- Licensed Cannabis Producers cannot encourage non-consumers of cannabis to become consumers.
- Licensed Cannabis Producers cannot market to underage audiences. ‘Underage’ is defined at the provincial and territorial level.
- Licensed Cannabis Producers must include ‘responsible use’ warnings in all ads.
- Licensed Cannabis Producers must age-verify users before they can access their website.
- Licensed Cannabis Producers can only advertise on platforms where at least 70% of the audience is over the age of majority. Age of majority is defined at the provincial and territorial level.
- Licensed Cannabis Producers can only advertise their brand – not cannabis in general.
- Advertising cannot imply consumption.
- Advertising cannot use imperative language to encourage consumption or purchase of cannabis products or accessories.
- Licensed Cannabis Producers may not use branding that may appeal particularly to young person (no cartoon characters etc.)
- Licensed Cannabis Producers can’t associate cannabis with performing any skilled activity while impaired (driving, working etc).
- Licensed Cannabis Producers advertising cannot – directly or indirectly – suggest that adult use cannabis has therapeutic or health related effects.
- Licensed Cannabis Producers must include their legal business name in all ads.
- Licensed Cannabis Producers may say that they have been authorized by Health Canada.
More Rules to Come for Cannabis Advertising in Canada
This is not an exhaustive list of all the regulations to abide by when marketing and advertising marijuana. New laws specifically pertaining to marijuana are likely to arise and the list above does not delve into the rigorous PIPEDA laws that govern marketing and advertising in Canada’s Health sector as a whole. The legalization of marijuana and the gradual introduction of hemp products into the mainstream will be a gradual process. It’s very likely that the rules and regulations surrounding the marketing and advertising efforts of Licensed Cannabis Producers and auxiliary businesses will grow and adapt with it gradually as well.
Line Items #4 and #11 in the Cannabis Advertising Regulations Above
We highlighted line items #4 and #11 above because, in our opinion, they pose the greatest challenge to marijuana advertising campaigns. Requesting age-verification prior to allowing a user to access a website is an unusual and complex feature to require. Certainly, many websites will have to adapt their infrastructure to accommodate this regulation as typically the inclusion of such a feature would be considered a hindrance to optimal user-experience. At M.Ad we’ll be interested in seeing further details released on how this regulation is enforced, how the data is to be stored under what circumstances Licensed Cannabis Producers would be required to produce such data to prove compliance.
With regards to #11 – marijuana’s reputation in the medical field has been gradually growing as more and more physicians prescribe it for a widening array of conditions. On a social level medicinal marijuana seems to have been largely accepted, hence the push from the masses towards legalization. It seems that while medical research on this topic can be distributed for informational and factual purposes it’s against these regulations to use this information for marketing and advertising purposes. This seems like a limiting regulation and it’s quite unlike restrictions that surround other off-label treatments. While it poses a unique challenge, there are compliant ways of ensuring Licensed Cannabis Producers are reaching their target audience through their marketing and advertising efforts.
You Can Always Rely on M.Ad for Safe Medical Advertising Practices
We write articles like this to demonstrate that we’re ahead of the curve when it comes to truly understanding the rules and regulations surrounding medical advertising and marketing. We take great care to ensure all the accounts we manage are compliant with medical rules and regulations because we truly believe in their important role of protecting vulnerable people.