A Guide to Colorado Cannabis Advertising Restrictions

A Guide to Colorado Cannabis Advertising Restrictions

In advertising, marijuana marketing, strategy by Nicole FlaniganLeave a Comment

A Guide to Colorado Cannabis Advertising Restrictions

A Guide to Colorado Cannabis Advertising Restrictions

Advertising is tricky business in most industries, including industries that aren’t considered controversial in any way. As you’ve most likely already noticed, It’s incredibly difficult to try and advertise in the cannabis industry here in Colorado. There’s a very long list of things that you can’t do and a relatively short list of things you actually can do. So where should you even begin? Isn’t advertising one of the fundamentals of marketing any business? The answer is yes. Here is a short guide to all of the Colorado cannabis advertising laws to help you navigate these dark waters of cannabis legality.

General

No Deceptive, False, or Misleading Statements: R1102 states that “A Retail Marijuana Establishment shall not engage in Advertising that is deceptive, false, or misleading. A Retail Marijuana Establishment shall not make any deceptive, false, or misleading assertions or statements on any product, any sign, or any document provided to a consumer.” This means that you can’t lie or bend the truth about what you do or sell.

Internet

No Internet Advertising to an Underage Audience: R1107 states that “A Retail Marijuana Establishment shall not engage in Advertising via the internet unless the Retail Marijuana Establishment has reliable evidence that no more than 30 percent of the audience for the internet website is reasonably expected to be under the age of 21.” This means that you technically aren’t allowed to have a website unless you can prove that less than 30% of your traffic is under the age of 21. Most businesses use a pop-up window that asks a site visitor if they’re over the age of 21. If the visitor selects no, the visitor cannot view the website’s content. This data is tracked with analytics and can be used to prove that no underage visitors can see the site.

 

No Unsolicited Pop-Up Ads: R1114 states that “A Retail Marijuana Establishment shall not utilize unsolicited pop-up Advertising on the internet.” This means that you can not pay for pop up ads on other websites to advertise your cannabis business.

Print Media

No Print Ads Near an Underage Audience: R1106 states “A Retail Marijuana Establishment shall not engage in Advertising in a print publication unless the Retail Marijuana Establishment has reliable evidence that no more than 30 percent of the publication’s readership is reasonably expected to be under the age of 21.” Similar to the internet law, this law is in place to protect minors. This is usually not an issue as long as your content is age protected. For example, your business has an in-house newsletter that you give out to 21+ customers. When they sign up for the newsletter, they agree that they are 21+ in writing.

Radio

No Radio Ads Near an Underage Audience: R1105 states that “A Retail Marijuana Establishment shall not engage in radio Advertising unless the Retail Marijuana Establishment has reliable evidence that no more than 30 percent of the audience for the program on which the Advertising is to air is reasonably expected to be under the age of 21.” As used in this rule, the term “radio” means a system for transmitting sound without visual images and includes broadcast, cable, on-demand, satellite, or internet programming. Radio includes any audio programming downloaded or streamed via the internet. Similar to the last few categories, your content always needs to be protected from minor ears and eyes. Adding an age pop up is an excellent way to avoid trouble on radio online. Traditional radio ads are not allowed in any form.

Television

No Television Ads Near an Underage Audience: R1104 states that “A Retail Marijuana Establishment shall not utilize television Advertising unless the Retail Marijuana Establishment has reliable evidence that no more than 30 percent of the audience for the program on which the Advertising is to air is reasonably expected to be under the age of 21.” As used in this rule, the term “television” means a system for transmitting visual images and sound that are reproduced on screens and includes broadcast, cable, on-demand, satellite, or internet programming. Television includes any video programming downloaded or streamed via the internet. Since there isn’t a way to protect this type of content from underage eyes or ears, it isn’t allowed.

Signage and Advertising

No Safety Claims Stating ‘Regulated by State Licensing Authority’: R1109 States that “No Retail Marijuana Establishment may engage in Advertising or utilize signage that asserts its products are safe because they are regulated by the State Licensing Authority.” That just means that you can’t market your product as any safer because Colorado licensed your business.

 

No Safety Claims Stating ‘Tested by a Retail Marijuana Testing Facility’: R1110 states that “A Retail Marijuana Establishment may advertise that its products have been tested by a Retail Marijuana Testing Facility, but shall not engage in Advertising or utilize signage that asserts its products are safe because they are tested by a Retail Marijuana Testing Facility.” This just means that you are more than welcome to advertise that your cannabis has been tested and cleared, but you can’t use the test to market your product as safe or safer than other cannabis.

No Content that Shows or Targets Minors: R1112 states that “A Retail Marijuana Establishment shall not include in any form of Advertising or signage any content that specifically targets individuals under the age of 21, including but not limited to cartoon characters or similar images.” We see a lot of dispensaries sharing viral memes with Spongebob and Tom & Jerry on their social profiles. While these are obviously not directed at children, they are attractive to children and can get you in a lot of trouble. Similarly, images that contain children are also pretty taboo, so don’t even consider it.

 

Outdoor Advertising: Word for word, R1111 states the following:

“A. Local Ordinances. In addition to any requirements within these rules, a Retail Marijuana Establishment shall comply with any applicable local ordinances regulating signs and Advertising.

B. Outdoor Advertising Generally Prohibited. Except as otherwise provided in this rule, it shall be unlawful for any Retail Marijuana Establishment to engage in Advertising that is visible to members of the public from any street, sidewalk, park or other public places, including Advertising utilizing any of the following media: any billboard or other outdoor general Advertising devices; any sign mounted on a vehicle, any hand-held or other portable sign; or any handbill, leaflet or flier directly handed to any person in a public place, left upon a motor vehicle, or posted upon any public or private property without the consent of the property owner.

C. Exception. The prohibitions set forth in this rule shall not apply to any fixed sign that is located on the same zone lot as a Retail Marijuana Establishment and that exists solely for the purpose of identifying the location of the Retail Marijuana Establishment and otherwise complies with any applicable local ordinances.”

 

This just means that you are not allowed to display ads outdoors that are not used as business/storefront identifiers and are visible to minors. In some local counties and municipalities your outdoor advertising laws may be more strict, so be sure to keep an eye on your city’s government and laws.

Misc Advertising

Targeting Out-Of-State Audience is Prohibited: R1108 states that “A Retail Marijuana Establishment shall not engage in Advertising that specifically targets Persons located outside the state of Colorado.” This just states that you can’t advertise your products to anyone outside of the state of Colorado for any reason. If your business is a B2B business that makes concentrates, for example, you can’t use advertising materials for your products to earn business in California.

 

Event Sponsorship: R1115 states that “A Retail Marijuana Establishment may sponsor a charitable, sports, or similar event, but a Retail Marijuana Establishment shall not engage in Advertising at, or in connection with, such an event unless the Retail Marijuana Establishment has reliable evidence that no more than 30 percent of the audience at the event and/or viewing Advertising in connection with the event is reasonably expected to be under the age of 21.” For example, The Clinic hosts a golf tourney for charity every year and allows other canna-brands to help sponsor the event. But since it’s a family-friendly event, cannabis advertising is prohibited. They can advertise their services, but not their products. As another example, Cannabis Cup is a 21+ event, so businesses that sponsor this event can advertise however they wish.

 

Advertising via Marketing Directed Toward Location-Based Devices: R1113 states that “A Retail Marijuana Establishment shall not engage in Advertising via marketing directed towards location-based devices, including but not limited to cellular phones, unless the marketing is a mobile device application installed on the device by the owner of the device who is 21 years of age or older and includes a permanent and easy opt-out feature.” This just means that text and email marketing is legal, but your opt-ins have to be over the age of 21 and able to unsubscribe if they choose to.

For more information, you can always check out Colorado NORML or refer to the Colorado Retail Marijuana Regulations published by the state of Colorado!

 

We hope this resource will help you as you determine the best marketing and advertising options for your Colorado cannabis business. Not quite sure yet? Team MaryJane is your one-stop shop for all of your marketing and advertising needs. Our dedicated team knows the ins and outs of Colorado cannabis advertising law in order to provide you peace of mind. Consultations are always 100% free, so what’s the holdup? Give us a call today!

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