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California Dreaming: Cannabis Advertising Hits A New Age

Written by Marguerite Arnold

California is going to be different when it comes to cannabis. That much is already very clear now that the state is moving ahead to legalize recreational use next year.

One of the ways it is already distinguishing itself?… Cannabis advertising.

This has been problematic just about everywhere – and not just in the U.S. In fact, both early dispensary listing and content firms Weedmaps and Leafly, got their start precisely because of this issue.

With dispensaries banned from advertising per federal law, the new loophole became online presence. Since then, of course, this has been an issue in every state.

However a new bill to ban cannabis advertising just went down in flames in California. And that is a very good sign for the industry – both state-wide and everywhere else.

Why Is Advertising So Controversial?

As parodied extensively in the new Netflix Series Disjointed, there are several issues at play here in the American market as well as everywhere else.

In the U.S., both tobacco and liquor advertising are banned in most places. The internet created a new dimension for both, just as it has created for medical cannabis. The idea here is that advertising creates demand. And demand, for cannabis, should not be encouraged.

In Europe, this is even more nuanced. Cannabis, at least at the moment, is considered a narcotic drug. That may not be advertised either.

So in effect, what this latest move does in California is open a whole new world of cannabis or CBD advertising. And thanks to the internet, it will not be limited just to California.

The Rise of Brand-Based Advertising

The fact that the California legislature is also moving in a new direction is absolutely in part, the power of the film and advertising industry in the state, if not its IT hubs. The firm that stands to benefit the most from all of this? Google of course. And with the search engine giant now starting to allow medical marijuana advertising via AdWords, this is going to have global impact.

On top of this, albeit a bit smaller in terms of direct influence, many Hollywood stars are now hopping on the marijuana bandwagon as a new and definitely lucrative gig. Even as the “voice” or “face” of a new brand or even store, this is lucrative business that makes the Californian economy tick like no other.

And therefore, while ostensibly, “just” state-wide, what California now stands poised to do is change the face of cannabis advertising globally.

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About the author

Marguerite Arnold