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Navigating Compliance and Legal Considerations in Cannabis Marketing

Navigating Compliance and Legal Considerations in Cannabis Marketing
  • March 29, 2023


Are you a cannabis brand struggling to reach and resonate with your audience because common laws and regulations block every effort? You're in luck! Cannabis marketing may be more complex and difficult to navigate, but navigating it is possible. You just need the right expert advice and guidance to help maintain compliance. Strategize Your Marketing with Our Free Templates

The cannabis industry is growing quickly — from $28.266 billion in 2021 to $197.74 billion in 2028, in fact —but so are the legal hurdles cannabis companies face when conducting marketing. Due to its legal grey area, marketers must tread a fine line compared to other industries. Knowing how to navigate legal compliance with your cannabis marketing tactics is key to cutting through the noise of a booming industry without getting into trouble.  

It won't be easy, but here is a framework of cannabis marketing laws and regulations to be mindful of with our expert advice on how to work around them.  

Focus on Reaching an Adult Audience

Only target adult audiences when advertising cannabisDespite its many health and wellness claims, cannabis is still a controlled substance, and as such (even where legal recreationally), it's for people 21+. Giving any focus to those under 21 could damage your brand and business and likely get you into some trouble with the law. This includes unintentionally attracting a younger audience to your marketing.  

For instance, certain materials, such as cartoons, may be more appealing to children. Since different states have laws regarding marketing to younger audiences, you must be careful not to attract their attention with these types of materials. Another tip would be to focus on channels with primarily older audiences. This can be much more difficult to achieve because many platforms have quite a mix of age groups. 

However, research notes the following age groups as the largest via popular social channels: 

  • Facebook — 25-34 
  • Instagram — 25-34 (18-24 is close behind) 
  • TikTok — 10-19 
  • Twitter — 18-29 
  • LinkedIn — 25-34 
  • Pinterest — 50-64 
  • Snapchat — 15-25 
  • YouTube — 15-35 

Keep in mind that each platform has its own rules and regulations in addition to state & federal laws on cannabis marketing.  

Avoid Explicit Mention of Your Product  

avoid explicitly mentioning cannabis products while marketing your brandIn addition to keeping your focus on an older audience, laws and platform regulations don't allow explicit encouragement of using your products or actual imagery. However, you can still mention your brand's values or quality of farmers/service. Avoiding direct mentions of your product while lifting your brand is difficult, and marketers must be clever to achieve it.  

We advise workarounds like referencing in ways your target audience will understand and using influencers. The great news is that these restrictions don't apply to influencers and sponsored content, so a relevant social celebrity can do a lot for your brand. They can help you reach not only their audience but a larger audience in general because they can mention your product explicitly, share their experience with it, and have discussions with consumers that your brand is forbidden to conduct.  

Worried an influencer won't be enough to boost your sales? Think again! Studies show that social media users trust influencers more than branded content anyways: compared to just 38% that said they trusted branded social media content, 61% reported trusting recommendations from their favorite influencers.  

Educate Audiences about Cannabis  

Educating target audiences about cannabisDon't ignore the power of helping your target audience learn more about your products, especially in an industry that is full of stigma, fear, and consumer hesitations due to a lack of information. In fact, consumers are 131% more likely to purchase from your brand when you provide educational content: a study conducted on four brands found that 83.6% of respondents purchased from the brand that produced educational content.  

Wondering why it's so popular? It's because it helps you display expertise and promote your product and brand without definitively "selling." Consumers are sick of annoying, irrelevant, and invasive ads following them around the web. They want more value from the brands that want their purchase. 

Content marketing allows you to use your marketing as a platform to dispel misconceptions and fear of risks and provide more information on the different uses and benefits they may not have known existed. This way, you can build trust and credibility with your audience so that they walk away from the experience feeling more confident about your products and brand.  

To be successful in this growing and legally restricted industry, cannabis marketers must stay up to date with changing regulations. A media partner like McClatchy can help you navigate your unique circumstances while reaching and resonating with the right people. This is because our experts have years of expertise and experience with the cannabis industry specifically. 

Contact us for more insight and resources on cannabis marketing and the fine line you must tread to be successful.   

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