The green wave continues to cross the nation. In Illinois, recreational cannabis use became legal on January 1. In the first day of sales, over 77,000 purchases were made — totaling over $3.2 million. Oregon is the only other state to bring in that amount on their first day of legalized sales. The “Land of Lincoln” is expected to exceed $420 million in cannabis sales by end of the year, with estimates to eclipse $1.3 billion in 2023 — rivaling similar income figures of Colorado. 


These large sale numbers are done in the face of jumbled federal and state advertising laws. It’s no secret cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, but at the state level, where the drug is now legalized, advertising laws still pose hurdles for businesses. Regardless of company type, retail or technology, if you touch cannabis, you have strict regulations to be aware of before launching your marketing campaign. 


But first, a few notes. There are a lot of false narratives and stigmas surrounding cannabis advertising. It is possible to be done and done with great success. However, even as more states legalize, there remains a lack of consistency between laws and regulations. There is also a large disparity between digital and traditional advertising within the cannabis space. That being said, a growing sliver of digital advertising (programmatic advertising) is quickly opening new opportunities for cannabis companies. Finally, at the end of the, when a cannabis company is in doubt about product or service advertisement, it’s best to stick to brand awareness campaigns. 


Now here’s what you all came here for… seven important advertising restrictions to know. 

1. Can’t Advertise to Anyone Under the Age of 21 


  • Much like alcohol, ads can’t target people under the legal consumption age, nor can the ads be perceived to encourage the idea of use by underaged individuals.


2. Paid Ads for Google and Facebook Are Disallowed 


  • Tech giants like Google and Facebook adhere to federal law. Paid advertising on these, and related platforms, are not allowed due to the federal drug classification of cannabis. However, organic advertising is still a viable option.


3. USPS Won’t Deliver Mail Promoting Cannabis


  • As a federal agency, the postal service refuses to deliver mail promoting illegal activity, such as cannabis use.


4. No False or Misleading Claims 


  • Ads cannot display inaccurate or deceitful information that may encourage someone to buy and use cannabis.


5. Traditional Ads Must Ensure > 71.6% of Audience Population is Over 21 


  • This rule varies between states, but for a general rule of thumb, traditional ads like a newspaper spot or billboard space can only be displayed if at least 71.6 percent of the audience coming into contact with the ad is 21 or older.


6. Can’t Show Depiction of Use 


  • Again, much like alcohol, advertisements cannot show the actual use or consumption of cannabis or cannabis-related products.


7. 1,000 Foot Boundary 


  • The specifics of this also vary by state, but in most cases, ads are not allowed within 1,000 feet of playgrounds, schools, recreational centers, child care centers, public parks, public libraries, game arcades, and other child-focused areas.


Need Help Navigating Cannabis Advertising Laws? 

Elevato Marketing is a full-service digital agency specializing in cannabis advertising. With a team of experienced professionals, we are ready to help connect your products with the right clients. Contact us to see how together we can benefit your business!