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The State of Digital Marketing in the Cannabis Industry

With more and more states voting in favor of legalizing cannabis, it’s no surprise that cannabis has become the fastest-growing industry in the United States since 2015. In 2021 alone, the legal cannabis industry is expected to add $92 billion to the US economy. The industry, however, remains far behind its mainstream counterparts in terms of utilizing advertising channels to get their message out. It’s about time we change all that and start utilizing the proper marketing tools available in 2021 to make cannabis advertising for your business easy.

The Green Gold Rush! How can we get in on this?

Support for legal cannabis is at an all-time high, with 68% of Americans in favor! There is no better time than now to get up and running with the right advertising channels and marketing techniques that best suit your business.

First things first. The restrictions that surround cannabis advertising are driving businesses to change their approach to traditional marketing strategies. It is important to keep in mind that cannabis continues to be federally classified as a schedule 1 drug, therefor current regulations related to cannabis advertising are governed by the states and counties your business operates out of. Traditional advertising methods can be particularly difficult in regions bordering states that have not legalized cannabis use in any form.


Most cannabis bills are written to build upon those that have successfully been passed before them. This means that state laws can generally be boiled down to a few basic guidelines to safely advertise within the legal parameters.

  • No claims of health or medical benefits
  • No elements that could appeal to children (cartoon characters, etc.)
  • No false or misleading statements, including those made about competitors’ products
  • No testimonials or endorsements (e.g. recommendations from doctors)
  • No depiction of product consumption
  • No pricing information, potency statements, or promotional offers
  • Ads for infused products must state “For Adult Use Only”


Traditional Marketing Practices for Cannabis Advertising

The use of print media for marketing in the cannabis industry such as billboards, magazines, postcards, and brochures definitely have their place. These marketing techniques remain tried and true as a necessary strategy. This is because it is typically less restrictive and is not as easy to take down as content can be on digital platforms.

Advertising in popular cannabis magazines such as Broccoli, Cannabis Business Times, High Times, Cannabis Culture, and others is encouraged and will be widely seen by cannabis enthusiasts and prospective customers alike. Although these forms of media are widely distributed, it can be difficult to measure how effective the ad is based on the lack of user data.

Digital Advertising Opportunities for Cannabis

Since major online platforms such as Facebook and Google do not allow cannabis advertising, many companies are left unaware of their options regarding digital advertising for their products. Programmatic advertising technology has enabled cannabis companies to easily run ads across hundreds of mainstream websites while avoiding specific restrictions of other platforms.

Wait…Programmatic What?

Programmatic advertising refers to the automated buying and selling of online ad space using programmatic technology. Advertisers and agencies use demand-side platforms (DSP’s) to “bid” on certain ad impressions based on the ad space and the viewers that will see it. Cannabis-specific DSPs work with other industry leaders to develop sets of data relevant to cannabis advertisers. The data collected through these platforms ensures that all viewers will be adults age 21 and over and also live within appropriate state borders. These data sets can then be opened within their own platforms to help cannabis advertisers reach known cannabis consumers. These known consumers, for example, are individuals that have downloaded cannabis-related apps on their phones, such as Leafy.

cannabis advertising

Successful digital marketing strategies within the cannabis industry can be achieved in many ways.

Email Marketing

Traditional email marketing remains an effective way for many companies to market their products and services. This is specifically helpful for cannabis companies, as it provides a way to communicate to customers with fewer restrictions and limits on content.

Good SEO Practices

Search Engine Optimization is crucial to generate traffic on any website, regardless of the industry or business. Cannabis sellers can take full advantage of properly using keywords, adding additional links and URLs to websites, listing quality reviews, and producing content on their sites that has descriptive text with quality images that is user-friendly and also looks good on mobile devices.

Take Advantage of Existing Cannabis Industry Online Communities

Several existing networks have been developed in recent years as the legal cannabis industry has gained its footing. These platforms can link cannabis companies to websites and social networks with a wide range of cannabis consumers:

  • Mantis is a platform that is open to advertisements in a range of niche communities, such as cannabis enthusiasts.
  • Weedmaps is a site that allows cannabis users to locate dispensaries, CBD companies, brows anything related to cannabis, and interact with other users.
  • Leafwire is s social network that links cannabis companies to their consumers. This site is relatively new and is growing rapidly.
  • Adistry is an advertising platform that caters to advertising companies across different industries, including cannabis.
  • CannaSOS is a social network site that is popular among cannabis consumers.
  • Weedlife is another social network that is mainly focused on cannabis enthusiasts and can be accessed through mainstream social media accounts such as Facebook or Twitter.

In-Dispensary Digital Out-of-Home

Screens are everywhere nowadays. DOOH advertising has the potential to reach people at moments when they are involved in everyday tasks in public places. While each state has its own unique laws, cannabis ads generally still cannot be shown in certain public venues such as gas stations, etc., however, they can still reach customers to inform them about products and services in the places that are tailored to the community. With In-Dispensary Digital Out-of-Home advertising, we can reach clients as they are waiting in line at their local dispensaries. This is a uniquely critical point of relevance, as the customer is already in the dispensary and deciding what they will be purchasing.

Video Marketing

More and more people prefer to watch video content rather than reading wordy articles and posts. The rise of platforms such as TikTok and YouTube has shown that this is the direction things are moving in. Cannabis sellers should consider creating video content that can be published on places like YouTube, blog entries, or other social media sites that allow for the direct targeting of specific user interests and demographics.


Podcasting has become an extremely common way for many people to consume media. A recent survey has shown that 37% of adults have listened to at least one podcast in the last month. Podcast advertising can be a powerful marketing tool as it targets specific audiences and can be accessed from a variety of media platforms and blogs.

Education is the Key

While cannabis legalization is on the rise across the United States, the need for greater education about the industry as a whole is a must. Adding elements of education to marketing strategies will make businesses appear as more “legitimate” in the eyes of the general public. These could include showing the differences and varieties of marijuana strains available, medical conditions that can be treated with cannabis or CBD, as well as regions where it is legal and can be grown. Solid, reliable information can make all the difference.

Access to Media can Help

It can be confusing and somewhat intimidating for advertisers to wade into the waters of legal cannabis marketing. Despite the heavy restrictions of advertising cannabis, there are still a variety of methods that, when put into practice can result in reaching a wide audience and contribute to the overall growth of the industry.  Access to Media can guide your business through this process while growing your brand and increasing the digital footprint of cannabis companies across the United States. The estimates for legal cannabis sales across the US are set to reach $25 billion by 2025 with a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent. To say this is huge would be a massive understatement! There is no better time to promote your business. Access to Media can help, for a FREE no-obligation quote call us today at 866-612-0034. Let’s get advertising!