Cannabis Marketing: The Do’s and Don’ts

To grow your cannabis brand, you need to have an effective advertising plan. Cannabis marketing, however, is nothing like creating campaigns for a less niche product.

One big reason for the high degree of difficulty is that mistakes are costly. Breaking the law or refusing to abide by the regulations can result in your business being permanently crippled.

Study this guide to know the limitations of cannabis marketing, as well as the tricks needed to achieve success. With sufficient planning, you can create marketing campaigns that will effectively showcase your cannabis.

The don’ts

Before you embark on creating the next great cannabis marketing campaign, you have to be informed about different laws and regulations. It would be best if you hired a lawyer who specializes in the cannabis industry. Regardless, we will provide some essential tips regarding both state laws and federal laws.

State laws

The complexity of state laws never ceases to amaze both cannabis entrepreneurs and cannabis consumers. Because of the unique system in place, every US state has a legal right to regulate its own laws and regulations.

Even though recreational cannabis is legal in 10 states and medical in 33, each state has its own strange cannabis marketing regulations.


California has legalized cannabis for recreational purposes, but they’ve imposed some pretty strict regulations and restrictions on cannabis advertising. Most of it relates to media. Any form of cannabis marketing can only be done if the medium has an expected audience of more than 71.6% adults.

The law explicitly says “where the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years or older”. What is a reasonable expectation anyway? California is yet another state that has imposed unclear legislation on cannabis marketing.


Colorado is a little less strict on this matter. They don’t have any restrictions in terms of media advertising. However, there is one catch that severely limits cannabis brands based in the state.

Any cannabis retailer registered in the state of Colorado is forbidden from advertising its products to people living out of state. There is also a ban on pop-up advertising on the internet. The situation might not be as bad as it is in the Golden State, but no pop-ups severely hinder marketing options.


Connecticut has one particularly interesting regulation. Apparently, no cannabis brand can advertise their products with a negative reference to a competing brand or product. The cannabis community has applauded this move because it instills fairness and promotes healthy cannabis marketing values.


The legislators in Hawaii imposed their own set of special rules. Any dispensary is legally forbidden from displaying cannabis or cannabis-manufactured products in public view. This means that dispensaries have few options to advertise at their physical locations.

Customers may only see products if they enter the store and look for themselves. This creates a problem for dispensaries that don’t have large digital marketing budgets.

Keep in mind that these aforementioned laws are just a fraction of every state’s regulations on cannabis marketing. New rules are being approved by each state, so you have to stay informed. Don’t make a single marketing move without legal consultation. It’s better to invest in a good lawyer than to lose hundreds of thousands in fines and punishments.

Federal Laws

Cannabis is federally still illegal, which makes federally-oriented legislation pretty clear on every matter. For digital marketing, the Controlled Substance Act is clear on cannabis marketing.

Since it’s a Schedule I substance, digital marketing is strictly forbidden on a federal level. If your ads show up somewhere they’re not supposed to, you might be facing some serious problems.

Things get slightly unclear when it comes to television and radio. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hasn’t instilled a ban on cannabis advertising. However, they are the ones who have the ability to revoke or renew a broadcasting license on a yearly basis. They can also do so without any explanation. In most cases, cannabis experts would agree that the FCC is blatantly blackmailing broadcasters to stop with cannabis advertising.

The USPS is a federal agency, and as such, it must follow federal legislation. Thus, you are forbidden from sending materials related to cannabis marketing. There is one useful loophole. By law, the USPS is legally obliged to tell the sender that something he or she is sending is illegal. If the sender insists, the USPS can report them to local law enforcement.

Be careful with branding

While marketing your cannabis brand, be careful not to infringe on the copyrights of any existing brand. Due to legal obstacles, all the big conglomerates are willing to use any aid at their disposal to distance themselves from cannabis brands.

The bigger the brand, the bigger the chances they sue you. To stay safe, always be original. This means no puns on popular company names, no caricatures or designs mimicking another brand. Stay in your own lane.

The do’s

Sadly, the cannabis industry is still at a state where you have to look over your shoulder before you develop your brand. Even though state and federal regulations and hinder your progress, there is still a myriad of things you can do to grow your brand.

  • First and foremost, research your target audience. Know their packaging and strain preferences, along with other comments
  • Create a customer persona and target that imaginary customer with each and every campaign you develop
  • Make sure your website is tidy, easy to use and has fast loading times. Social media must be updated multiple times a day
  • Don’t let your brand identity be sales-oriented. Be helpful and informative first and only offer the solution later on.
  • Post blogs about cannabis, but be sure to present links to valid scientific studies and papers.
  • Alternative options are at a rise. Cannabis magazines offer significant advertising for brands.

There is also a rising number of cannabis podcasts and radio show. Collaborate and work towards a common goal. Having friends and associates in the industry can go a long way.

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