Societal Views of Marijuana

By: Zoey Willhide

Marijuana is now legal in eleven states. For some people, that’s pretty great, right? In terms of advertising and marketing, it’s pretty great, too. The marijuana advertising world is pretty uncharted compared to more accepted industries, like cosmetics. Agencies that choose to take on projects having to do with the marijuana industry face obstacles with little to no regulation.

 With introduction of a new product comes an entire set of new challenges. One of the main obstacles that agencies struggle with in marijuana advertising is changing the perceptions of consumers. The stereotypical “lazy stoner” is still a symbol. Honestly, can we blame society for thinking this? With almost 100 years of prohibition and a negative connotation attached, it’s no wonder we have reservations. Federal law still has marijuana scheduled as a Schedule I narcotic, along with cocaine and heroin. I don’t know about you, but if I wasn’t educated on the issue, I wouldn’t want to try something that’s in the same category as coke and heroin ( rules-and-taboos-cannabis-advertising/2164931, Razzall, 2019). See the problem?

Marketers and advertisers alike have been taking a high-quality approach to this challenge. Companies like Dosist who create natural medicines using THC and CBD have worked with traditional agencies to create content that appeals to be more mainstream to the public. This content includes, ads, videos and other digital marketing techniques. The website itself is clean, simple and is easy to navigate ( rules-and-taboos-cannabis-advertising/2164931, Razzall, 2019). To an average consumer, the message and product is easier to absorb and process.

In the United States, there isn’t a lot of regulation on the advertising of pharmaceuticals. We know this. Should advertisers take a page from the alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical companies? 

Personally, I think some regulations for advertising medicines should be integrated in marijuana advertising. Especially when there are studies showing befits of Cannabidiol (CBD). The first drug approved by the FDA containing CBD is something called Epidiolex. The target market for this drug would commonly be people with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, mild pain, and heart disease (, 2018).

Another problem with advertising in the marijuana industry are the regulations. Since legal pot is still a relatively new product, there aren’t a lot of specific guidelines for print media. However, the FCC has extremely strict guidelines about promoting controlled substances over broadcast ( navigating-stigmas-rules-and-taboos-cannabis-advertising/2164931, Razzall, 2019), including cigarette commercials. This has made advertising over television pretty much non-existent.

California has the most relaxed laws about marijuana and its marketing ( advertising/2164931, Razzall, 2019). Basically, anything print is fair game. In contrast, Maryland has made it that much harder for marketers and advertisers. They’ve banned any type of cannabis advertisement, aside from medical dispensary logos.

Some states model their marketing after regulations already in place products with similar perceptions (i.e. alcohol), with California recently finalizing marketing regulations, we can see that there is some overlap when it comes to marketing to minors. These regulations include not making content marketable to audiences under 21 ( Gilbert-As_More_States_Legalize_Marijuana_Adv_Regulations_Come_into_Focus.pdf, Davis & Gilbert, 2019). This includes making things like cartoons, characters or anything that could influence a younger audience. Sweepstakes and raffles are also considered off limits. The public isn’t allowed to participate in winning anything marketed by marijuana companies ( As_More_States_Legalize_Marijuana_Adv_Regulations_Come_into_Focus.pdf, Davis & Gilbert, 2019).

Developing market strategies for marijuana and other products seen as taboo can prove to be difficult, especially when trying to abide by regulations that aren’t really regulations that also can’t be marketed to a certain audience in a certain way… yeah. It’s a lot.

 Regardless, everyone might as well get used to the idea of seeing marijuana marketed in more mainstream environments. The world is going green, and soon, the advertising world will be going in the same direction.

Leave a Reply

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: