Friday, October 10, 2014

Marijuana ads mimic tobacco ads

A Prevention WINS coalition member recently sent me the photo below of a marijuana producer's billboard in Seattle.

It looks like marijuana businesses are using the same strategies tobacco and alcohol businesses use to attract consumers.

The Liquor Control Board provided marijuana businesses with information about how marijuana may be advertised.  Their online FAQ provides answers to a variety of questions.  Below are a few.

Online Advertising

May I have a website to promote my company? Are there any limitations on a company website?
Yes you may have a website to advertise your business. However, the law does not allow a business to use a website to sell marijuana/marijuana products. All recreational marijuana sales must take place at a licensed marijuana premises.

Can I use social media to promote my business?
Yes. Please use social media with caution and be mindful not to appeal to, or solicit, viewers under the age of 21. If possible, please restrict views to adults age 21 and older.

May I hire an online advertising company to promote my business through blog posts and other online options like videos?

Am I able to produce a YouTube page with comedy commercials promoting my marijuana business?
Yes. Please use social media with caution and to be mindful not to appeal to, or solicit, viewers under the age of 21. If possible, please restrict views to adults age 21 and older.

Am I able to have a mascot in the YouTube commercial?
Yes, as long as the mascot is not a cartoon character or is appealing to children.
Traditional Advertising

May I set up a separate business to promote my marijuana retail store?
Yes. That would be allowed if the business is used to sell t-shirts, hats etc. Those items, however, could not be sold within your retail marijuana store.

May I advertise for cannabis on the radio and TV?
The law states that licensed marijuana producers, processors and retailers “may not advertise marijuana or marijuana-infused products in any form through any medium whatsoever within one-thousand feet of the perimeter of a school ground, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park or library, or any game arcade admission to which is not restricted to persons aged twenty-one years or older.” The fine is $1,000 for each violation.

Although print media, such as newspapers, are often delivered to locations at or near schools, the LCB does not intend to enforce the 1,000’ buffer for newspaper advertising as long as the advertising does not violate other provisions of I-502.

Television and radio, of course, carry across state lines as well as places where children can see or hear. TV and radio are also regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. Licensees should consult with their attorney and media-buyer or other advertising sales representative to ensure cannabis/related advertisements are permissible.

May I advertise in non-cannabis magazines and publications?
Yes, as long as the publications in question are not marketed towards children or people under the age of 21.

May I cross promote my business with a neighboring business (items such as glasses, t-shirts, lighters etc.)?
Yes, and vice versa.

May I use direct mail to households and inserts delivered via the Seattle Times and other publications?
Yes. Inserts may not contain coupons.

Branded Merchandise

May I sell t-shirts with my company’s trade name and logo on them in my retail store?
A licensee is not permitted to sell t-shirts from their retail store or business website. A separate business is necessary to sell items beyond what is allowed under I-502.

Could a separate entity (separate LLC, operating close-by) sell branded merchandise?

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