Under federal law, the growing, processing, and sale of cannabis is still a crime in the United States. Many of the major media conglomerates have decided not to allow any advertising through their distribution channels due to this fact and that is their right because they are private businesses that can choose what the want to advertise through their distribution channels.
Even though we have the protection of the First Amendment certain agencies, like the FCC, have jurisdiction over what information can be distributed. Another thing to consider is that the company’s headquarters may not be in the state where cannabis is legal to sell and if they we to take money from this type of businesses they may have issues in the state where they are registered by taking funds from what would be considered an “illegal” business in their headquarters state.
What this means for your Cannabusiness is that you could end up spending large sums of money, (Market research, branding, website creation, commercial production, social media, etc) and find out later that your efforts have been in vain.
At Cannadvertising it is our mission to make sure that this does not happen to you.
We have complied a table of what the safest forms of advertising you can do as a Cannabusiness. We have also included what rules and regulations prevent the advertising of Cannabusiness below.
|Advertising medium||Will Allow Advertising?||If No, Why?||Link to rules or regulations.|
|Television, Cable, Radio||No||FCC and United State Constitutiuon||47 USC 312a|
|Public Transit (WA Only)||No||Can not advertise anything illegal||i502 Regualtion|
|Google, Bing (Google Ads)||No||Against policies||Restricted List|
|No||Against policies||Advertising Guidelines|
|GoDaddy||No||Against policies||Terms of Service|
|Akamai, Level 3, Limelight||No||Against policies||Acceptable Use Policy|
|Billboards (Publicly Traded)||Yes||Company discression||Contact Us|
|(Clear Channel, Lamar, CBS)|
|Billboards (Privately Owned)||Yes||Protected under First Amendment||Contact Us|
|Newspapers||Yes||Protected under First Amendment||Contact Us|
|Alternative Advertising||Yes||Protected under First Amendment||Contact Us|
|(Mobile billboards, street teams|
|Flyers, walking billboards, etc.)|
Television, Cable, and Radio Advertising –
Due to the Anti Drug Abuse Act of 1986 The FCC has the right to revoke any private operators license “who is found to have willfully used said license for the purpose of distributing, or assisting in the distribution of, any controlled substance in violation of any provision of Federal law.”
This means that any television, radio, or cable outlet could lose their license if they advertise any thing that is federally illegal. The FCC also covers telephone and mobile devices as well.
There are ways that some of the radio stations are making it possible to through P.S.A. (Public Service Announcements), but most have adopted a policy of not running commercial advertising for cannabusiness at all.
Public Transit –
In accordance with the rules for advertising under i-502 in Washington State a cannabusiness “can’t advertise on public transit vehicles/shelters or on any publicly owned or operated property.” In addition to this rule the public transportation systems that are run by the county and cities also have adopted rules that will not allow them to advertise anything that is illegal at the federal level.
Click here to go to the FAQ’s section on the WSLCB site for more information on advertising.
Print Advertising (Newspapers, Flyers, etc.)-
Right now there are a few publications that will advertise dispensaries and there is no regulations surrounding print advertising. There is how ever a rule in Washington States i-502 that says, “No licensee can advertise marijuana/infused product in any form or through any medium whatsoever within 1,000 ft. of school grounds, playgrounds, child care, public parks, libraries, or game arcades that allows minors to enter.” This could be interpreted that if a publication were to be distributed within 1000 feet of any of the above areas that the licensee would be in violation of i-502. We have researched this and we have provided some information under our Advocacy page. Check out the story about the Supreme Court’s ruling about “Federal Preemption Now a Barrier to Local Tobacco Ordinances”.
Online Advertising (Google, Bing, Facebook, etc.) –
Google and Bing have strict policies regarding tobacco, alcohol, and escort services. The advertising of controlled substances is also restricted. What does this mean for you and your website? Google and Bing enforce penalties that lower the rank of your website so that it will not rank in the “organic” search on those sites. Think of it like not being able to get your phone number listed in the Yellow Pages. Almost every private online provider has policies regarding “illegal” activity, for example, GoDaddy (Section 4 subsection iii) and Instagram (Basic Rules number 7) to name a few.
For more on the restriction of restrictions on advertising illegal drugs on Google click here.
For a full list of restricted products and services on Google click here.
For more on the restriction of restrictions on advertising illegal drugs on Bing click here.
For a full list of restricted products and services on Bing click here.
For a full list of restricted products and services on Facebook (See section IV, D) click here.
Companies that use services from other companies –
Here is some information regarding one of the largest providers of internet services “Akamai”
“Akamai® is the leading provider of cloud services for helping enterprises provide secure, high-performing user experiences on any device, anywhere. If you’ve ever shopped online, downloaded music, watched a web video or connected to work remotely, you’ve probably used Akamai’s cloud platform.”
In Akamai’s “Acceptable Use Policy” it clearly states that
“(A) Customer shall not use the Akamai Network and Services to transmit, distribute or store material that is inappropriate (including online gambling), as reasonably determined by Akamai, or material that is illegal, defamatory, libelous, indecent, obscene, pornographic, enables online gambling or inconsistent with the generally accepted practices of the Internet community.”
For more on Akamai’s Acceptable Use Policy click here.
What this means is that companies that use Akamai and decide to advertise your cannabusiness would be in violation of the “Acceptable Use Policy” and they “may immediately block access to such content, suspend or terminate any affected Akamai Services, or take any other actions Akamai deems appropriate.”
There are a number of Fortune 500 companies, TV, Radio, and Cable providers. Even Facebook and YouTube make the list. That means if a company that is using Akamai’s services and they violate the “Acceptable Use Policy”, they could have there websites shut down.
For a list of companies that use Akamai’s services click here.
And even there competitors Level 3 and Limelight Networks have “Acceptable Use Policies” that prevent business from do “illegal” activity using there services.
For more on Level 3’s Acceptable Use Policy click here.
For more on Limelight Network’s Acceptable Use Policy click here.
They also have provisions that allow law enforcement to gather data without a subpoena.
You can view Level 3’s Law Enforcement Reference be clicking here.
Billboard advertising –
Currently there are no regulations regarding advertising on billboards. It falls under the decision of the company that owns the billboard if they are going to do “Cannabusiness” advertising. Chances are if the company or owner is a locally own business they they will have more leeway that a large conglomerate.
Alternative Advertising or Non -Traditional Advertising –
There a many forms of alternative advertising, or what is know as non-traditional advertising. These include mobile billboard trucks, inflatable billboards, street teams, bicycle advertising, segway advertising, moped advertising, and walking billboards to name a few.
All of these methods are protected under the First Amendment and it will be up to the individual company’s decision whether or not hey would choose to advertise for cannabusinesses.
We can help you to determine the best marketing solution for your cannabusiness. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation today.