In 1996, California became the first state to establish a medical cannabis program with Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act. However, the Golden State had already been long acquainted with cannabis.
Recreational use in California began around the 1850s during the Gold Rush, and even though the War on Drugs placed a prohibition on adult-use cannabis, in 2016, the state was one of the first states to legally approved recreational cannabis at the state level with Proposition 64 (“Prop 64”).
However, as the federal status of cannabis remains unchanged, the California cannabis industry has had to place very specific regulations around marketing and advertising for businesses.
While these regulations vary at the state and local levels, the law generally covers four main concerns:
- Age Restrictions
- Health-Related Claims
- Giveaways & Promotions
- Discretion of Advertising
Here is a breakdown of the California cannabis advertising rules and regulations, outlined in Chapter 15 of Proposition 64:
- Ensure that at least 71.6% of the target audience for any ads made on broadcast, cable, radio, print, and digital communications is reasonably expected to be 21 or older.
- Make sure any direct, individualized communication or dialogue – such as your website – includes an age-gate to verify the age of your audience. This may include user confirmation, birth date disclosure, or other similar registration methods.
- Do not advertise your products or any branded merchandise in a way that may be considered attractive to children or anyone under the age of 21, including, but not limited to:
- Any likeness to images, characters, or phrases that are popularly used to advertise to children
- Any imitation of candy packaging or labeling or the terms “candy” or “candies” or variants in spelling such as “kandy” or “kandeez.”
- All packaging containers should be tamper-evident, child-resistant, and if containing multiple servings, should also be resealable.
- Do not make misleading or unsupported claims about the health benefits of your brand, including by way of ambiguity, omissions, inference, or the addition of irrelevant scientific or technical matters.
- Make sure all statements and claims made about your product are consistent with any statement on the same product’s labeling.
- Do not make any claims about the origin of your cannabis product unless the label of the product bears an appellation of origin.
- Include an informational primary panel on all manufactured cannabis products in a type size no smaller than 6-point and proportional to the size of the primary panel and container, which includes the following:
- The name of the licensed manufacturer that manufactured the product and their contact number or website address;
- The date the cannabis product was packaged for retail sale;
- The following statement in bold print: “GOVERNMENT WARNING: THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS CANNABIS, A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND ANIMALS. CANNABIS PRODUCTS MAY ONLY BE POSSESSED OR CONSUMED BY PERSONS 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER UNLESS THE PERSON IS A QUALIFIED PATIENT. THE INTOXICATING EFFECTS OF CANNABIS PRODUCTS MAY BE DELAYED UP TO TWO HOURS. CANNABIS USE WHILE PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING MAY BE HARMFUL. CONSUMPTION OF CANNABIS PRODUCTS IMPAIRS YOUR ABILITY TO DRIVE AND OPERATE MACHINERY. PLEASE USE EXTREME CAUTION;”
- The statement: “FOR MEDICAL USE ONLY” if the package contains an amount of THC that exceeds the level allowed for adult-use cannabis goods (500mg THC)
- A list of all product ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight or volume, including major food allergens, artificial colorings, sodium, sugar, carbohydrates, total fat per serving, and more.
Giveaways & Promotions
- Do not participate in giveaways of any amount of cannabis, cannabis products, or any cannabis accessories, as part of a business promotion or other commercial activity (excluding Compassion donations to cannabis patients). This includes promotions such as:
- Buy one product, get one product free;
- Free product with any donation; and
- Contests, sweepstakes, or raffles
Discretion of Advertising
- Do not advertise or market on a billboard located on an Interstate Highway or on a State Highway which crosses the California border.
- Make sure any advertising signs are placed within more than “1,000 feet of a day care center, school providing instruction in kindergarten or any grades 1 to 12, inclusive, playground, or youth center.”
Summary of California’s Cannabis Advertising Regulations
To summarize, the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) allows the sale and advertisement of cannabis in California so long as:
- Steps are taken to ensure that the ads do not reach or appeal to anyone under the age of 21
- The ads are true and do not mislead consumers
- Packaging and ads include all the necessary warnings and information in an unambiguous manner
- No free product is given away as a promotion
- The ads comply with specific provisions aimed at keeping cannabis promotion and sale discreet
Headache-Free California Cannabis Marketing
Our team at Cannabis Creative has decades of industry-specific experience that helps us grow cannabis and CBD brands without getting tangled up in all the restrictions. Between our expertise and your vision, your California cannabis business won’t ever get held up because of the law.
Investing in the right digital marketing partner for your brand will allow you to strategize, execute, and grow your cannabis or CBD brand. Contact us today to get started on your next digital marketing campaign.