In the year since a patchwork of state laws and regulations have been put in place to regulate the commercialization of marijuana in the United States, the industry has created a labyrinth of challenges for the people in the middle. The difficulty of regulating products that are still considered illegal by the federal government, the ease of navigating a system that operates on a patchwork of state laws and regulations, the confusion of how advertising is regulated, and cannabis’ lack of national — let alone international — acceptance are all issues that are creating obstacles for cannabis companies.

The multi-billion dollar cannabis industry continues to expand, but like all industries, there are regulatory rules to follow. Advertising cannabis is a particularly tricky subject because federal law prohibits any direct-to-consumer advertising that uses or promotes the use of cannabis. So, what is out-of-home advertising, and how can it potentially promote cannabis use?

In many states, it has been illegal to advertise cannabis since the 1970’s. Several states have attempted to expand cannabis industry advertising rights, and in 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that cannabis companies should be able to advertise their in-store sales in Colorado and Washington. But, as of March 2019, whether or not cannabis advertising will be permissible in-state varies widely from state to state. In recent months, the advertising landscape has changed dramatically, with the introduction of new platforms and the evolution of existing tactics.. Read more about out-of-home advertising 2020 and let us know what you think.Cannabis has reached significant milestones in the first half of 2021. Adult-use cannabis is legal in five more states, bringing the total to 16, plus Washington, D.C. In addition, Congress recently renewed two federal cannabis laws. Even with these developments, the cannabis industry has had a difficult road through state and local regulations regarding sales, operations, taxes, and advertising.

Advertising regulations pose serious obstacles that cannabis companies must overcome. Because cannabis is federally prohibited, traditional advertising media such as television and radio broadcasts are limited to states where cannabis is legal. Yet many networks don’t want to touch cannabis advertising. Big tech companies like Google, YouTube and Facebook have largely pushed cannabis companies out of online marketing. Because cannabis advertising laws vary from state to state, businesses face a hodgepodge of inconsistent regulations.

How can brands operate in this confusing regulatory environment? They turn to outdoor advertising (OOH). Here’s what you need to know about legal advertising of cannabis products and brands in outdoor media.

Scattered plans in each state

Medicinal cannabis has been legal in California for over twenty years, and cannabis for adult use has been legal for five years. Yet the debate about the place of cannabis advertising in everyday life continues. This isn’t just happening in the Golden State. Other states, such as Colorado and Oregon, where the legal cannabis industry is already established, continue to consider how to regulate cannabis advertising in print and outdoors. Not to mention the fact that states that have just begun legalization will have to catch up with developing rules and regulations.

With the right partner, cannabis companies can navigate their way through the maze of national advertising regulations to gain exposure for their products, services and market. The best online display buying platforms even have cannabis filters that make it easy to identify cannabis-appropriate display ad inventory.

Growth and innovation in outdoor advertising

This dispensary ad appeared on Variety.com.

Navigating the Complexities of Out-of-Home Cannabis Advertising Nationwide

Although it is the oldest form of advertising, billboards are anything but. This is a dynamic and fashionable form of communication that is ready to grow with the cannabis industry. Of course, the screen also includes the more traditional billboards on motorways. But it also includes eye-catching digital billboards, taxi sign advertising, building facade signs and digital car charging stations, all of which are available on billboard purchase platforms.

These platforms make it easier and more effective for cannabis brands to target consumers, as required by law. Brands such as Cookies, Eaze, MedMen and MONOGRAM have launched campaigns that make people laugh, feel like going on Instagram and are thought-provoking to increase brand awareness. The Northern California-based Cookies is a master of cross-merchandising products and has created an entire clothing line around its brand. Real California Milk even participated in the event by setting up a drugstore-style pop-up and purchasing display materials. Through OOH, cannabis companies effectively connect adult consumers with their latest products, promotional offers and physical stores, and encourage conversations about cannabis legalization and decriminalization.

Issues in using signage to promote cannabis

If you work in the cannabis industry, work with an agency, or own a small business that manages the advertising process, here are some things to consider when planning OOH advertising.

  • Know the rules of the place where you want to advertise. This is a rapidly evolving area. New markets are emerging. Rules are made and challenged. It is important to find industry partners who can provide reliable and up-to-date information on the status of advertising regulations in the markets in which you operate in order to remain compliant and not jeopardize your license to operate.
  • Both Ivyside and Weedmaps are presented on this pageSee the practical questions. What do local cannabis advertising regulations mean for your brand? Are there regulations beyond the location of the poster campaign? Rules for creative works or forbidden words? Regulatory policies will likely be developed at the state level (see Illinois and Massachusetts), but will ultimately be regulated by local municipalities (see City of San Diego). There are solutions. If you can’t show people using cannabis, cannabis leaves or cannabis products, it doesn’t mean your creativity is limited. Note on Weedmaps. The company launched the Weed Facts campaign on hundreds of billboards in at least half a dozen markets to tout the many benefits of cannabis. It says: States that have legalized marijuana have 25% fewer opioid deaths.

Navigating the Complexities of Out-of-Home Cannabis Advertising Nationwide

  • Determine the specific objectives of your campaign. What do you want to achieve with a poster campaign? Do you want to increase your brand awareness? Are you launching a new product? Attract foot traffic to a physical location or encourage customers to visit your website? Are you an advocate for change? Establishing the objectives will determine the creativity and locations of the campaign. Speaking of launching: For signage – especially digital signage – your creation can be up and running within 48 hours. Outdoor advertising is customizable and can be targeted to a specific part of the market through location-based tools, word-of-mouth and design.
  • Measure success. With the exception of national and local regulations, the opportunities to use OOH to promote and publicize your brand are virtually limitless. Once the campaign is launched, you can track the goals and success with the right display buying platform. With the ability to track and isolate display, you can determine conversions, measure ROI, compare the performance of different units, and optimize your campaign.

While local, state and federal laws change and evolve, display advertising remains the tried and true standard for cannabis businesses to build brand awareness, promote their products and drive traffic to their websites and storefronts.As the state of marijuana legalization continues to tip in favor of the good guys, the nation’s cannabis community is no stranger to the entertainment industry. In the spring of 2017, well-known content company Weedmaps made a splash with the announcement of a new national television advertisement campaign featuring the company’s iconic marijuana leaf mascot, Leafy. The announcement was all the more shocking given that Weedmaps had not publicly revealed its affiliation with the cannabis industry and that the company had only been around for about a year.. Read more about oaaa and let us know what you think.

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