In a major policy shift, the social media titan will now allow “approved” and state-legal marijuana businesses to advertise on its platform.
As first reported by AdCann, Twitter will be reversing its stance concerning cannabis advertising on its platform. The social media company uploaded the policy change to its site this week under the heading “Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia.” In part, the statement reads, “We permit approved Cannabis (including CBD–cannabinoids) advertisers to target the United States.”
AdCann went on to note that, “effective immediately,” Twitter will allow “advertisers to promote brand preference and informational cannabis-related content” for select products and services, including:
CBD and Similar Cannabinoid Products
THC and Similar Products
Cannabis-related products and services, including delivery services, labs, events and more
Many marijuana industry advocates and executives warmly received the announcement. Rosie Mattio, CEO of Mattio Communications, a New York-based cannabis marketing and communications firm, tweeted: “Kudos to @twitter for being the first major social network to welcome Cannabis advertisements.”
"Kudos to @twitter for being the first major social network to welcome Cannabis advertisements.”
- Tweet by Rosie Mattio, CEO of Mattio Communications
However, despite the enthusiasm of many stakeholders, who seem to believe the new policy will give cannabis businesses a wide berth for advertising on the platform, the change is still seriously restrictive. For example, the policy still prohibits cannabis companies from marketing their actual products for sale on the site.
The exact language of the policy limitations further states, “Advertisers may not promote or offer the sale of Cannabis (including CBD– cannabinoids).” The lone exception includes ads for “topical (non-ingestible) hemp-derived CBD topical products containing equal to or less than the 0.3 percent THC government-set threshold.”
Some of the other restrictions and conditions that must be upheld or met by cannabis companies wishing to advertise under the new policy include the following:
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 target customers under the age of 21.
Ads may not appeal to minors in the creative copy, landing pages must be age-gated, and sales must be age verified.
Ads may not use characters, sports persons, celebrities, or images/icons that appeal to minors.
Ads may not make claims of efficacy or health benefits.
Ads may not make false and misleading claims.
Ads may not depict cannabis product use or persons under the influence.
Despite the bevy of restrictions, the change does seem to provide more leeway for cannabis businesses than existed before. While unable to market and advertise specific products on the platform, companies will likely be able to promote their brands and non-commercial activity.
Kaliko Castille, CEO of ThndrStrm Strategies, applauds the progressive improvement saying, “It’s been a long time coming for social platforms to allow state-legal cannabis brands to advertise on the same platforms that have built massively successful brands in other industries.”
"It’s been a long time coming for social platforms to allow state-legal cannabis brands to advertise on the same platforms that have built massively successful brands in other industries.”
- Kaliko Castille, CEO of ThndrStrm Strategies
The sudden reversal in policy comes on the heels of enigmatic billionaire Elon Musk’s controversial purchase of Twitter this past October. The mercurial tech magnate is infamous for smoking marijuana on the wildly popular Joe Rogan podcast in 2018. Because of that maverick-like behavior, Musk’s purchase of Twitter generated intense speculation that he would begin to loosen the platform’s restrictive advertising policy concerning cannabis.
Tuesday’s announcement solidifies that growing sentiment and may help the struggling website’s image among its more loyal progressive and pro-cannabis users and business partners. However, there is still much more work to do in order for cannabis advertisers to receive the full benefits of Twitter’s massive marketing possibilities.
Castille goes on to say, “Twitter beginning to open up their ads policy is finally a step in the right direction—although it seems there is more work to do for cannabis brands to have full access to consumers on the ad platform. I hope the legal departments of other platforms start to follow suit and that one day cannabis brands will have the same marketing opportunities as any other business.”
"Twitter beginning to open up their ads policy is finally a step in the right direction—although it seems there is more work to do for cannabis brands to have full access to consumers on the ad platform. I hope the legal departments of other platforms start to follow suit and that one day cannabis brands will have the same marketing opportunities as any other business.”
- Kaliko Castille, CEO of ThndrStrm Strategies
It is sometimes easy to forget that legal adult-use marijuana has only been around for just over a decade. Nevertheless, seismic cultural and political shifts have enabled the now formidable state-legal cannabis industry to grow and flourish in almost half of the states in the union.
With more knocking at the recreational marijuana door each election cycle, the sky is very much the limit for this sector powered by a magical flower. Twitter’s significant shift in policy in allowing expanded advertising opportunities is just the tip of an ever-growing and seemingly unstoppable iceberg of change for what could become one of the most important economic forces in American history.