Twitter changes policy to allow legal cannabis businesses to advertise
For cannabis businesses, social media has been both a blessing and a curse.
On one hand, social media represents the open frontier of access to target demographics, availability on demand, and a wealth of information and data with drill-down ability beyond comparison in nearly any other platform or medium.
The downside to building brand presence through social media has been that the most popular platforms are highly restrictive and notoriously unkind and unforgiving to marijuana businesses – no matter the legality of the business.
Now, one of the most prolific social media titans has had a change of heart.
This week, Twitter announced a policy change, specifically targeted at reform for advertising guidelines relating to legal cannabis companies in North America.
Effective immediately, Twitter will begin allowing advertisers to promote brand preference and informational cannabis-related content for legal cannabis businesses in the United States and Canada.
The new policy
Previously, Twitter allowed for some hemp-derived products like CBD topicals to be advertised and promoted on the platform, but there was no opportunity for legal dispensaries, cultivators, or other companies with THC products to be included.
American cannabis companies will need to be approved in advance to run ads through Twitter. That process will include verifying licensure and the legality of the business. Companies will only be permitted to advertise in markets they are licensed in, and must ensure the target audience is 21 and over.
Full requirements for American cannabis companies include:
Advertisers must be licensed by the appropriate authorities, and pre-authorized by Twitter.
Advertisers may only target jurisdictions in which they are licensed to promote these products or services online.
Advertisers may not promote or offer the sale of Cannabis (including CBD– cannabinoids)
Exception: Ads for topical (non-ingestible) hemp-derived CBD topical products containing equal to or less than the 0.3% THC government-set threshold.
Advertisers are responsible for complying with all applicable laws, rules, regulations, and advertising guidelines.
Advertisers may not target customers under the age of 21.
Additionally, advertisements may not:
- appeal to minors in the creative, and landing pages must be age-gated and sales must be age verified.
- use characters, sports-persons, celebrities, or images/icons appealing to minors.
- use minors or pregnant women as models in advertising.
- make claims of efficacy or health benefits.
- make false/misleading claims.
- show depiction of cannabis product use.
- depict people using or under the influence.
- encourage transport across state lines.
Approved companies will have access to Twitter’s full ensemble of advertising products including promoted tweets, promoted product opportunities, location-specific takeovers, in-stream video sponsorships, and partner publication features.
Ads will be managed and produced by their respective companies – leaving the responsibility for compliance with state and local regulations in addition to Twitter’s guidelines to the individuals and companies themselves.
Location-specific and age-gated targeting will be available for brands to ensure they are compliant with all laws and regulations.
Read the updated cannabis advertising policy here.
The beginning of new opportunities
Social media use hit all-time highs in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, but even as quarantine and restrictions subsided and a majority of life returns to normal, social media consumption remained. In fact, daily usage averages actually increased between 2020 and 2022.
According to data from statista, the average American currently spends more than 2 hours on social media each day.
Cannabis companies have struggled with social media in recent years.
Facebook and Instagram have cracked down substantially on posts related to cannabis and cannabis brands, with even non-plant-touching businesses suffering from the overseeing eye of ai and image recognition.
Many users have even been suspended or banned for sharing educational materials and news articles.
Companies have struggled to build a presence and maintain engagement while being barred from engaging consumers and followers in a similar fashion to any other business or advertiser.
Not only could legal marijuana businesses not advertise, but they often would face restrictions from sharing educational information about their own products.
Twitter is encouraging cannabis brands to advertise
Twitter has been less restrictive in recent years than other social media spaces, but now the company is fully embracing the idea of opportunity for cannabis businesses.
Not only has the company changed its policy on advertising, it is actively encouraging cannabis businesses to engage.
Twitter is currently offering a value match of up to $250,000 exclusively for cannabis brands through March.