Some businesses that sell legal cannabis are trying to figure out how they can advertise their product without facing legal punishment.
MerryJane reports that due to Schedule I (Controlled Substance Act) restrictions — marijuana still being associated with Heroin, LSD, and other dangerous drugs — business owners aren’t able to write off any advertising expenses for their product.
Cannabis advertisements over the radio are illegal, as is promoting the sale or distribution of marijuana over the Internet. Some states don’t even allow email marketing when it comes to marijuana.
In Colorado, as CBS Denver reports, the state government approved a bill stating that marijuana can’t be advertised to people under 21.
Despite the strict advertising regulations around the country, in legal states marijuana production and distribution is still a valid business. Those companies want to promote their product and get ahead of the competition just like any other industry, but they aren’t able to advertise as freely.
The United States Postal Service released a statement regarding the advertising of cannabis:
“The Controlled Substance Act makes it a felony for any person to place in any newspaper, magazine, handbill, or other publications, any written advertisements knowing that it has the purpose of seeking or offering illegally to receive, buy or distribute a Schedule I controlled substance, which includes marijuana.”
The USPS threatened newspapers around the country that if they printed advertising space for cannabis, the Department of Justice would be notified.
This ruling didn’t cause too much of an issue in non-legal states, but in legal states, this is a problem for businesses trying to advertise.
The cannabis industry could soon advertise like the alcohol industry, which is self-regulated, but there are various aspects that advertisers would need to consider.
Federal Trade Commission regulations as well as the audience of each individual marijuana ad need to be taken into consideration. The alcohol industry’s current rule is that wholly 71.6% of an audience must be over 21 in order to advertise in that area.
This affects many forms of advertising, as companies won’t be able to promote their brand on billboards, near schools, in metro areas, and even as aerial ads, which enjoy a 79% remembrance rate and 67% retention rate.
Since it’s such a grey area, advertisers might just have to tread water until new and specific rules are passed.