How do you create compliant cannabis product ads?

Depending on where your business is located, it can be tough to create compliant cannabis product ads… and it’s not getting any easier.  California and Canada, two of the largest potential legal cannabis markets, have, and continue, to implement ever stricter rules and regulations about how, when, and where you can advertise your business and your products. 

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Before we go any further, we want to make it plain that we are not attorneys, nor did we stay in any hotel last night, especially not the ones that give you the ability to do brain surgery without any training. 

I should also point out, that while I’m writing this, you can’t buy ads on Adwords, Facebook, or any of the other usual spots for managing your digital ad campaigns.   Maybe this will change soon, but we’re going on what is, not looking at what if. 

Oh Canada! What are you thinking?

In Canada, for instance, the upcoming adult use legalization means that product manufacturers, dispensaries and others in the business will have to adhere to strict rules for packaging and advertising – including a prohibition on celebrity testimonials and consumer endorsements. 

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Packaging looks like it will have to be plain, without the use of ‘brand elements’, and this is going to handicap a lot of companies who rely on point of purchase or other, more traditional, types of advertising to appeal to their consumer demographic. 

California – not you too!

California has also implemented some less than ideal rules when it comes to advertising and that can make it tough to create compliant cannabis product ads.  Age verification, a prohibition on giveaways, and the requirement to identify yourself certainly eats into many ad promotion campaign ideas, leaving dispensaries and product managers shaking their heads. 

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Billboards, bus stops, and other logical places to run cannabis friendly advertising are also off the table – mostly due to the age restrictions situation.  Of course when you look at the actual situation in California right now – licensing and all that stuff that has not been sorted out halfway into year one, it makes you wonder if anyone will bother policing the rules and assigning fines or worse to violators. 

Mobile is the primary option for delivering compliant cannabis product ads.   

Mobile ad campaigns are an excellent fit for creating and distributing compliant cannabis product ads for a few different reasons, and they aren’t all cannabis-centric. 

#1 – Mobile is the most effective means of reaching your target demographic. 

No matter what you are promoting, these days it’s all about mobile.  In addition to the unbelievable number of times that people check their phones for updates each day, it’s also the preferred means of delivering search results and other “of the moment” content.  

Google likes mobile so much that they are now giving mobile friendly sites priority in search results. Click To Tweet

This means that if you have a mobile friendly, responsive website, you can tailor your landing pages to comply with the rules and get good search results.  Especially since organic search is the ONLY way you’ll get much in the way of results. 

#2 – Mobile offers the ability to age screen as a native part of the ad campaign. 

That’s right – you can screen for age verification using a mobile device at multiple points along the compliant cannabis product ad delivery route.  Options include pop ups with age verification questions – using date of birth, declared actual age, or yes/no option for being older than the minimum age required. 

This is an easy addition to a mobile campaign, and if you’re not using it on your website as well, now is the time to get to work and add the component. 

#3 – Mobile inherently offers the ability to restrict notifications based on location. 

A solid mobile ads campaign platform has the native ability to restrict or display lock screen notifications based on location, proximity or time based parameters. 

This means, in simple terms, that you can choose when to nudge your target demographic with active notifications about your products or your business.  In super restrictive cases, you can disable geo-location notifications and rely solely on proximity based triggers, such as iBeacons located in your business or other location.  

#4 – Disclaimers or other notifications can be built into your mobile ad campaigns. 

If you do business in an area that requires additional information be provided to prospective consumers or customers post sale, you can add these into your mobile campaigns at a granular level.  

How does this work?  Let’s say you do business in multiple locations – and the requirements for Location A include a notification that includes your license number.  Simple – just add another line to the back of your mobile wallet pass that contains this information.  Same with any medical or other claims or disclaimers that need to be included in order to meet the ad requirements. 

#5 – Mobile offers a flexibility that you simply cannot get anywhere else. 

Printing can be expensive and if rules and regulations change – becoming even more restrictive – you would then have to toss all the printed materials in the rubbish bin and start all over.  Same with billboards, stand up collateral, etc.  There is no way to retroactively change all the material.  

Mobile doesn’t work like this, since you can add or subtract content from your compliant cannabis product ads as needed, in just minutes.  

You can also change specials, feature different items, products lines, brand promotions, or anything else that you have included previously in a mobile ad campaign.  These can be adjusted on the fly, in order to meet changing regulations, but also to increase product sales or brand visibility as you like.  

The takeaway here:

  • Mobile is the most effective way to reach potential customers. 
  • Mobile is the easiest way to create and distribute compliant cannabis product ads.  
  • Mobile is an inexpensive way to get results.
  • Mobile is the most flexible advertising medium on the planet. 


If you’re not using mobile as a means of advertising your business, your products or your brand, talk to us today about how you can effectively create and distribute compliant cannabis product ads. 

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