I often receive inquiries from clients as to what they can do in terms of advertising and promotion of their marijuana product and brand. Washington State’s marijuana advertising rules are set forth in WAC 314-55-155.
In general, all marijuana advertising and product labels are prohibited from including the following:
- Anything false or misleading
- Promotion of over consumption
- Representing that marijuana use has curative or therapeutic effects
- Depicting anyone under age consuming marijuana
Additionally, a marijuana licensee cannot cause any advertisement of a marijuana product to be placed within 1,000 feet of school grounds, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, library or game arcade that admits minors.
Promotional items such as giveaways, coupons, and distribution of branded or unbranded merchandise is also prohibited. Retail licensees also cannot advertise “free” or “donated” products.
All marijuana advertising must include certain warnings regarding intoxicating effects, health risks and keeping the product out of reach of children. The required warning language can be found here.
As discussed in my prior post, Washington State recently amended its marijuana advertising laws. The changes include
- No outdoor billboards allowed except that a retailer may use an outdoor billboard sign to advertise the name and location of its business
- No transit (i.e. bus stop, taxi stand, train station, etc.) advertising is allowed
- No advertising targeted at out of state residents
- No advertising targeted directly or indirectly at youth
- No objects such as toys and movie or cartoon characters may be used in advertising
- No commercial mascots outside of or near licensed marijuana businesses
- Cities and counties can enact their own, more stringent advertising rules
Washington marijuana advertising law is aimed squarely at discouraging use of the product by minors as well as ensuring that marijuana is not given away for free. As a practical matter, however, these restrictions can make it difficult for licensees to promote their product and brand.
Before designing a new ad or brand campaign, licensees should carefully review the state’s laws and rules since violation of the state’s advertising requirements can result in steep monetary fines and/or license suspension or cancellation. Additionally, as a result of the new legislation, we may soon see additional advertising rules enacted at the local level.
For more information on the regulation of marijuana businesses in Washington State, please contact Heather Wolf.