Your Guide to California Marijuana Advertising Regulations


Your Guide to California Marijuana Advertising Regulations

Mar 27 2024, by Jessica McElfresh in Legal Blog, Marijuana Business

If you’re a cannabis business owner, you know that one of the best ways to attract clients is to advertise. But with cannabis still unlawful at the federal level, the regulations applying to the advertising of marijuana businesses are strict and complicated. Before you take out an ad in a newspaper, or buy radio or television slot, you should carefully read all applicable regulations and make sure you’re on the right side of the law.

Better yet, you can retain the services of a San Diego cannabis business lawyer to help you navigate the complex regulations that apply not just to the advertising of your marijuana business, but also its day-to-day operations. At McElfresh Law, we have a proven track record of helping Southern California cannabis business reach their goals. Call us today at (858) 756-7107 to schedule a consultation.

How Do I Legally Advertise My Cannabis Business in California?

Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, lays out many regulations for cannabis advertising in the state. Primarily, advertisements must accurately and clearly identify the business and can’t target anyone under 21.

Where Are Cannabis Ads Permitted?

California law also regulates the permitted channels in which cannabis business ads can be placed. No billboards featuring cannabis are allowed on a highway or interstate that crosses the border of a neighboring state. In addition, billboard and sign ads can’t be placed within 1,000 feet of a youth center, daycare, or school.

According to Section 26151 of Prop 64, ads can only be displayed where at least 71.6% of the audience is estimated to be at least 21 years old according to audience composition data. This applies to ads on TV, cable, radio, print, and in digital communications. Any direct marketing campaign or materials must accurately confirm the age of its targets before entering into communication with them.

What Content Is Allowed in Cannabis Ads?

The content of cannabis business ads is also subject to regulation. All advertising statements must be true and substantiated, and promotional materials cannot use language, music, gestures, symbols, graphics, characters, or any other content aimed at children.

You might think a product giveaway is a good way to attract business, but California law forbids this too —businesses cannot give away cannabis or cannabis accessories as a promotional tool.

With all of these rules to follow, it’s important to double-check the specifics of the law in your area before placing an ad.

What About Federal Laws?

According to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), it’s a felony to “place in any newspaper, magazine, handbill, or other publications, any written advertisement knowing that it has the purpose of seeking or offering illegally to receive, buy, or distribute a Schedule I controlled substance.” This offense is punishable by up to four years in prison.

Another part of the CSA reads: “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly or intentionally use the Internet, or cause the Internet to be used, to advertise the sale of, or to offer to sell, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance where such sale, distribution, or dispensing is not authorized by this subchapter.”

Until now, the federal government has not prosecuted anyone for publishing cannabis advertisements in states where it’s legal. However, under the direction of a different Attorney General, the Department of Justice may adopt a new policy and begin to enforce these rules.

What Are the Consequences of Violating Cannabis Advertising Laws?

Failing to comply with California’s cannabis advertising laws can have serious consequences for your business. The Department of Cannabis Control could issue a citation and a fine of up to $5,000 per violation. Serious or recurring violations could lead to the suspension or revocation of your license to operate.

Questions about Cannabis Advertising? McElfresh Law Can Help

To ensure your compliance and protect yourself when it comes to advertising your cannabis business, you need an attorney who is up to date on current regulations and can help you reach your target audience.

At McElfresh Law, we closely follow all changes to local, state, and federal laws that might affect our clients. Our goal is to give our clients the keys to successfully open and grow their California cannabis businesses. If you want to talk to an experienced California cannabis lawyer, call us today at (858) 756-7107 to schedule a consultation.

California marijuana laws change frequently. For updated information, see the following pages: Medicinal Uses of Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana Business