Content compliance in the cannabis industry is
. There’s no space for a half-baked,
glazed-over, or undercooked approach. The laws change constantly.
The regulations are complex. And the market is highly

One wrong move could turn your sweet Mary Jane dreams
into a legal (and financial) nightmare.

In heavily regulated industries like marijuana,
creativity and compliance go hand-in-hand

They’re the driving force behind every successful marketing

Whether you’re a consumer-facing cannabis brand, a B2B
vertical, or a 420-friendly vendor, your marketing assets must
follow legal and regulatory requirements.

You need to stand out, too, or get lost in a sea of

That’s why this comprehensive guide exists.
Read on to discover:

The importance of content compliance in the cannabis
The golden rules of cannabis content compliance
Cannabis marketing tips
Content policy guidelines
The benefits of working with experts

Ready to maximize growth while ticking all the compliance boxes?
Let’s get into it.


The cannabis industry operates in a unique space. It’s still
a relatively young market despite its explosive growth. As
regulators play catch-up, new laws change the landscape almost

To operate legally, ethically, and profitably, cannabis
businesses must prioritize content compliance
. It’s
non-negotiable at every consumer touchpoint.

Here are four top reasons why:

Non-Compliance is a No-No in the Cannabis Industry

Non-compliant content is a one-way ticket to failure. It
poses major business risks
for cannabis brands and their
servicing industries.

Deceitful claims, unethical advertising, careless
marketing, and other non-compliant actions could lead

Legal penalties
License suspensions
Civil lawsuits
Social backlash
Financial and reputational losses
And even total business shutdown

Marketing regulations are extremely stringent for marijuana and
CBD brands. But that doesn’t mean B2Bs and related businesses
are exempt.

Service providers of non-compliant businesses are also
. Failure to comply can land them in hot water

Non-compliance is just not worth the associated

Consumer Safety and Trust

Compliant cannabis content is transparent. It educates
consumers through accurate information
. Consumers can only
make informed decisions with expert guidance.

This applies to verticals like 420-friendly finance,
insurance, and payment processing too
. Compliant content
empowers cannabis brands to understand their rights and

When B2C and B2B consumers have reliable information, trust in
the industry grows. It’s something the slowly-maturing
marijuana market needs.

Brand Reputation and Credibility

The stakes are higher for a brand’s reputation in the
competitive cannabis industry. Memorable design alone isn’t
enough to stand out in the crowd.

With compliant cannabis content, B2Cs and B2Bs can build a solid
reputation. This tells consumers and regulators
your brand is a credible authority. It’s
critical to gaining customer loyalty and market share.

Industry Growth and Legitimization

Content compliance raises the bar for marketing and advertising
practices. It helps legitimize the cannabis industry by
promoting professionalism

The negative rhetoric around weed is shifting, albeit
slowly. That’s why every cannabis brand has a part to play.

Ultimately, adhering to compliance standards paves the way for
industry acceptance.


The complex nature of cannabis law means content compliance
isn’t a luxury. It’s a strict requirement. Brands must
minimize their risks in an already-tricky legal landscape.

Marketing and content are core components of that.

Here are eight golden rules of cannabis content

1. Know Your Applicable Cannabis Laws and Regulations

Cannabis laws and regulations are multifaceted
and ever-changing. Surface-level knowledge isn’t enough
to ensure content compliance

You need a deep understanding of your national and state
marijuana laws.

How is cannabis regulated?
What regional regulations exist?
Are any new marijuana laws pending?
Do they apply to your business?
How do the marketing restrictions affect your marketing
What are the penalties for non-compliance?

These are all questions you need to answer before marketing and
content creation. In semi-legal markets, compliance standards can
shift quickly. Ongoing vigilance is a must.

2. Understand Cannabis Marketing and Advertising

Cannabis marketing looks different in every jurisdiction and
niche. What’s permitted in one region may not apply in another.
Don’t stumble into a landmine. Side-step any potential issues.
Mitigate the risks.

Get to know your precise marketing and advertising

And keep these seven universal dos and don’ts top of

DON’T Use Restricted Imagery or Videos

Most jurisdictions restrict certain imagery or videos in
marketing messages. Get up to speed with your applicable rules. In

Don’t use imagery depicting cannabis consumption in
any form
. This includes pictures of smoking and storing
accessories. Avoid using images of vaporizers, bongs, rolling
papers, or medical devices.
Don’t use cartoonish characters or animations that
could appeal to children
Don’t use medical imagery. Avoid pictures
depicting doctors, nurses, and pharmaceutical items like pills or

Digital platforms also limit certain cannabis-related
. For example, here’s a screenshot from Meta’s Transparency Center:

DO Use Safe and Educational Terminology

Your cannabis content should never appeal to minors or
make unsubstantiated claims. Promoting illegal activities is also a
big no-no.
Even the slightest perception of these actions
could spell trouble.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
frequently imposes steep fines
on transgressors.

In the U.K., the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory
Agency (MHRA) has strict rules and guidelines. Goods classified
as “medicine” must be licensed.

A product not classified as “medicine” may
not be marketed using certain terms. These include words like
“heal,” “restore”, “prevent”,
“avoid”, “cure”, or “fight.”

Steer clear of the following terminology in your cannabis
content assets:

Drug references. Avoid wording that implicitly
or explicitly refers to cannabis as a drug. Don’t make
associations with other illicit substances. Minimize the use of
drug-related slang terms. These include “pot,”
“reefer,” “ganja,” and similar.
Medical claims. Never make, imply, or suggest
unsubstantiated health claims. Don’t make statements about
treating or curing specific medical conditions. The
FTC cracked down
on CBD brands for doing this.
Exaggerated and deceptive terms. Unless you
provide acceptable proof, avoid using absolute medical terms. Avoid
phrases like “clinically proven,” “scientifically
backed,” “supplements,” and similar wording. Refrain
from using terms like “100% guaranteed results” too.
Youth-appealing language. Cannabis is only
legal for adults. Steer clear of terminology that may appeal to
Promoting illegality: Never use language that
implies or promotes breaking any laws. “Get high legally”
or “circumvent the laws” are good examples.
Product testimonials or endorsements by
. Such content can be viewed as misleading or
deceptive. Certain authorities and digital platforms might flag

Always use qualifying language in your cannabis
. Safe terminology like “may,”
“might,” and “could” can prevent unproven
claims. And stick to the facts. Education is powerful in the
marijuana industry.

These are general guidelines. Consult your local
marijuana laws to understand your precise legal

DON’T Discount Age Restrictions

Cannabis is an age-restricted industry. Naturally, lawmakers
hold brands accountable in this department. Implement effective
measures like:

Age-gating access to online cannabis-related
. Birthday verification on your website is also
Adhering to and setting age restrictions on social
. Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms have tools
for age-restricted content. Make sure your public pages conform to
their policies too.
Targeting a mature audience with cannabis advertising
. This step affects every aspect of your
marketing strategy.
Labeling cannabis content and products with “For
Adult Use”

Age restrictions vary by country and region, too. Multistate
operators must stay within the confines of each state-specific

DO Include Disclaimers and Warnings

Like anything, cannabis and CBD products carry potential risks.
Be clear about these dangers in your content.
Where required, always include specific and factual product
information about possible:

Side effects and impairment risks
Allergic reactions
Addiction risks
Use dangers
Overdosing risks

Disclaimers are also required by law. They
inform consumers of potential limitations or hazards about your
products or services. These disclosures also minimize legal
arising from the use of your offerings.

Concise warnings and disclaimers keep your content legally
compliant. These aspects instill trust in your brand and offerings.
They also communicate your commitment to safe and responsible

DO Prioritize Accessibility

Remember the real-life cases mentioned earlier in this guide?
Accessibility is an often overlooked aspect of compliance. But
it’s a vital one. Cater to people with disabilities.
Make sure they can easily navigate and understand your
cannabis content

Use the Web
Content Accessibility Guidelines

(WCAG). Develop principles to provide equitable
access to your digital content.
Incorporate alternative content formats. Text
descriptions, audio transcripts, and closed captions on videos can
be a tremendous help.
Easy website navigation and contrasting colors
also enhance accessibility.

Accessibility is both a moral and legal requirement. It benefits
all users and strengthens responsible business practices.

DON’T Ignore User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful tool in the cannabis
industry. But it can be a double-edged sword.

Content compliance applies to UGC, like any other
cannabis content
. The same limitations and rules apply
too. Monitor your public comments, reviews, and testimonials.
Implement strict removal policies for non-complying UGC. Timely
moderation is vital.

Regulators hold brands responsible for non-compliant
Unsubstantiated or misleading product claims and the
like fall within this scope.

DO Make Transparent and Factual Health Claims

Any claims affecting public health must be legally
compliant, truthful, and substantiated
. The onus is on
cannabis and CBD companies to ensure this. Be transparent and
precise about your products.

Frequently review the applicable health claim regulations in
your region. Develop content policies that abide by these rules.
Ensure consistent compliance across all marketing channels and

Further substantiate any health-related claims with
credible evidence, like

Regulatory approvals
Lab testing
Clinical trials
Scientific studies
Expert analyses and opinions

CBD and marijuana companies must tread carefully in the
ever-shifting regulatory landscape. To do this,
evidence-based marketing practices are vital
. They help
satisfy legal requirements. They also distinguish your brand as
reliable and responsible.

DON’T Dismiss Packaging and Labeling Content

Content on product labels or packaging conveys essential
information. Those facts must be truthful and legally
. Include the following elements in such

Identifiable traits like product names,
descriptions, and net weights and volumes.
Product information such as ingredients,
additives, and preservatives. Include flavorings and potential
allergens too.
THC, CBD, and other cannabinoid content. This
is typically a legal requirement.
Quality control data like batch lot numbers,
best before, and expiry dates.
Accurate dosage guidelines.
Health and safety warnings and disclaimers.
These include side effects, reactions, or any other potential use
Applicable third-party testing and

Regulatory guidelines may have other requirements, like
child-resistant packaging. Plain language, font size, and font
legibility are also considerations. Companies may be legally
penalized for such unclear aspects.

3. Adhere to Social Media Platform Rules

Social media is instrumental in building an online presence. In
today’s digital world, it’s a necessity. But restricted
industries like CBD and cannabis have unique marketing

Social media platforms are bound by legal compliance
. They have their own policies on
cannabis-related content. Here’s a cross-platform

Cannabis Advertising Rules and Guidelines by Social Media

Cannabis and CBD Ad and Content


Google’s YouTube doesn’t allow videos promoting cannabis
sales. This includes related products or services.

YouTube further prohibits content aiming to sell or facilitate
access to regulated or illicit goods. This includes content like
comments, links, and contact information.

Educational and scientific content is allowed. It may still be
removed for age-restriction reasons, though.

YouTube only allows ads for FDA-approved CBD products.
Hemp-derived topicals with less than 0.3% THC are also

Certain geographical and other criteria apply. YouTube Masthead
ads are excluded.

All other ads promoting marijuana, its use, or consumption are
banned. This includes cannabis coffee shops, bongs, vape pens, and

YouTube Illegal or Regulated Goods or Services Policy

YouTube Harmful or Dangerous Content Policy

YouTube Dangerous Products or Services Ad Policy


Meta’s Facebook permits CBD ads meeting certain criteria.
This applies to U.S. advertisers only. Ads are also allowed for
hemp products in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.

The platform prohibits ads promoting THC and cannabis products.
Ads for related items, including vaporizers and e-cigarettes, are
also banned.

Certain educational cannabis content is permitted. But it must
abide by Facebook’s rules.

Facebook CBD and Related Products Policy


Meta’s Instagram explicitly bans the sale and promotion of
cannabis. The ban applies to all regions.

Dispensaries and other cannabis companies can’t use the
‘contact us’ tab to promote their businesses.

Any content trying to buy, sell, donate, gift, trade, or request
cannabis is banned. The same goes for non-medical drugs and related

Instagram Policy on Marijuana Sales

Instagram Restricted Goods Policy

X (formerly Twitter)

X (formerly Twitter) allows ads promoting CBD, THC, and
cannabis-related products and services. This is subject to certain

Only advertisers in the U.S., Canada, and Thailand can currently
run such ads.

X also bans ads promoting drugs and related items. Depictions of
drug dispensaries and hard drug use aren’t allowed.

X Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia Policy

Pinterest allows ads for hemp seed oil topicals with no CBD and
low THC.

Medicinal and therapeutic health claims are prohibited.
Educational content is allowed for CBD and hemp.

Pinterest bans advertising and informational material about
illegal or recreational drugs. Cannabis falls under this category.
Content on accessories for use, storage, and consumption is also

Pinterest Advertising Guidelines


LinkedIn bans the sale or promotion of marijuana products.
Authorized advertisers can only promote certain products that meet
the platform’s criteria.

These items include medical devices (like vape pens).
Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines (such as CBD
products) may also be included.

LinkedIn Advertising Policies

The following content may be considered as promoting

Product prices
Price lists
Potency statements

Avoid platform violations by steering clear of the above
in your social media content

Cannabis marketing and ad content must abide by
platform-specific rules. They may change as new laws are enacted.
Stay informed and review them regularly.

4. Create Compliant Email Campaigns

Email marketing remains an effective channel for engaging and
informing customers. But it also carries compliance risks,
especially for cannabis businesses.

Ensure every email campaign adheres to the applicable laws.

Informed consent with a simple opt-in process.
Keep these records safe.
Robust age verification measures. This ensures
your cannabis email marketing efforts only reach a mature
Disclosure policies for any product warnings and
. Include information about affiliate
relationships, endorsements, and paid ads too.
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) to follow email
. These rules include the
. The EU’s
General Data Protection Regulation
(GDPR) may also apply.
Any email provider requirements. Some
platforms are cannabis-friendly. Others aren’t. Review the
rules to avoid any marketing mishaps.

Your marketing emails should also be transparent. Avoid
misleading claims. Restricted terminology and imagery apply here

5. Don’t Break Digital Ad Rules

Digital advertising is tricky for marijuana companies. Most paid
ad platforms prohibit the promotion of cannabis, even where
it’s legal. CBD advertising is less restrictive but still has

Understand what platform-specific limitations apply to
your products or services

Google Ads

Google prohibits ads relating to cannabis. This
includes educational ad copy and ads for associated marijuana goods
or services.

In January 2023, Google
updated its advertising policies
. It now allows CBD ads meeting
certain conditions. The criteria include the following

CBD pharmaceuticals must have the FDA’s stamp of
For topicals, only those derived from hemp with 0.3% or less
THC are permitted.
CBD ads are only allowed in Colorado, Puerto Rico, and
CBD advertisers must apply for Google and LegitScript

Any other Google ads promoting CBD-based products are
still prohibited
. This includes advertisements promoting
CBD vapes, e-cigarettes, supplements, and food additives.

Bing Ads

Microsoft’s Bing ads are much more restrictive than
Google ads
. According to its
Drugs and Related Paraphernalia Policy
, ads cannot promote:

Cannabis or medical marijuana.
Any CBD products.
The cultivation, use, or distribution of illegal or
recreational substances.
Equipment used to conceal, make, or consume recreational

Marketing cannabis on TV and radio is also prohibited in most
jurisdictions. That said, certain digital audio and connected TV
platforms allow such advertising.

6. Consult the Experts

Cannabis laws and compliance standards are
complicated. Marketing professionals can often overlook or
misinterpret them
. And the consequences can be dire.

Not confident about any content compliance
Consult one of our experts.
Oversight, support, and peace of mind are strategic

Legal Counsel

Cannabis attorneys and legalists offer region-specific guidance
on applicable laws. These experts are instrumental in:

Regulatory compliance
License acquisition
Risk evaluation and mitigation
Contractual agreements

Legal counsel identifies any potential risks in your
content and marketing strategies

They also assist in overall business compliance. It’s a
requirement to operate and market legally.

Cannabis Marketing Compliance Specialists

Cannabis content compliance specialists are invaluable.
They have the knowledge and experience to align your
content with industry regulations
. Their services
typically include content audits, compliance training, and
remediation guidance.

Regulatory Consultants

Regulatory consultants specialize in applicable regulations.
Their expertise allows businesses to readily adopt compliance
standards. These experts can assist with license
applications, compliance audits, and policy

Partner with proven experts to supplement your internal
compliance efforts. Doing so can mitigate far-reaching legal issues
and penalties.

7. Track and Adapt to Regulatory Changes

Cannabis content compliance is dynamic. It changes as new laws,
regulations, and requirements emerge. Marijuana companies have to
stay agile. Track and adapt to regulatory changes with a systematic

Stay informed of upcoming legal and regulatory
. Regularly monitor your national, state, and
local laws.
Conduct periodic compliance audits. Identify
any improvements to content policies or processes. Frequently
review all published content and marketing assets too.
Be proactive and self-regulate. Adopt similar
approaches to other restricted industries. For example, the Beer
Institute has its own Marketing and Advertising Code.
Conduct regular staff training. Keep your
marketing team and other employees compliance-ready.

A proactive approach keeps your content strategies
tracking alongside regulatory changes
. This protects your
marketing efforts as the cannabis industry matures.

8. Collaborate in the Cannabis Industry

Collaborate with industry peers to share best compliance
practices. Working with other stakeholders helps the
broader market adopt regulatory changes
. It also promotes

Consider joining cannabis industry groups and associations such

The National Cannabis Industry Association

DC Cannabis Business Association

The Cannabis Business Association

The Minority Cannabis Business Association

The European Cannabis Association

The European Medicinal Cannabis Association

Cannabis marketing compliance doesn’t exist in a silo.
It’s an intrinsic part of every business practice.
Joining reputable associations holds your brand up to a
higher standard


Marketing limitations aside, cannabis brands have various
opportunities to promote their businesses. The key is to
balance creative efforts with compliance requirements

1. Leverage Your Brand

A memorable brand doesn’t have to promote its products to be
recognized. We all know what the apple symbol, the big red
‘M,’ or the black tick logo represent. In the
highly restrictive cannabis industry, your brand is your greatest

So invest in brand marketing. Use content assets like videos,
social media posts, images, and blogs. Tell your brand’s story

Industry guides and ebooks. Highlight your
expertise and provide real value on cannabis-related topics in your
niche. Use educational content in various forms, but keep it
Process breakdowns and origin stories. People
are naturally curious, and they appreciate transparency. Give them
an inside look at your team and production processes. Use diverse
formats like video, podcasts, and blogs.
Consistent content across all platforms. Your
design elements, values, and brand voice must be entrenched in
every marketing asset. Use everything from branded apparel to
creative copy to stand out.
Corporate social responsibility. The cannabis
industry is, by and large, a community-driven market. Showcase how
your brand meets sustainability, governance, and compliance

Your brand is arguably your most powerful marketing asset,
especially in the cannabis industry. It takes time and consistency
to develop, but the payoff can be huge.

2. Maximize Organic Growth

With limited paid ad options, marijuana brands must prioritize
organic growth. Online visibility tracks alongside this. If people
can’t see your business, they won’t know it exists.

Even then, the cannabis space is highly competitive.

Focus on marketing strategies that propel your brand to
the top of the search results
. And to the top of
consumers’ minds.

Cannabis Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization gets your cannabis brand in front of
more people organically.

Use the best SEO practices to get your website ranking. These

Publishing high-quality content that meets
Google’s E-E-A-T requirements
In-depth keyword research related to your
Creating topical clusters to enhance your
online authority.
Leveraging local SEO, more people can find
your business.
Optimizing on-page elements like

SEO is a multifaceted strategy.

Develop comprehensive guidelines. Target every on-page,
off-page, technical, and semantic SEO aspect
. Do all this
while ensuring complete content compliance.

It’s a long game, but a vital one for every cannabis

Cannabis Content Marketing

Marijuana brands like cultivators, dispensaries, and concentrate
companies exist in a unique space. They have extensive expertise in
their niches.

The same is true for ancillary industries. Software vendors,
payment processors, and industry consultants are all
cannabis-specific experts.

Turn your expert insights into valuable assets through
content marketing
. Create guides, blog posts, and social
media stories. Engage your cannabis community with riveting and
authoritative content that educates and inspires.

Cannabis Events and Expos

Gain exposure by sponsoring or attending cannabis industry
events. It’s an excellent way to showcase your goods or
services and build your network

Public Relations

Build relationships with cannabis media outlets and journalists.
Create brand awareness through press releases, interviews,
and guest posts
. These PR activities help shape your brand
as an authority. They also get you media coverage when it

3. Power Up With Programmatic Advertising

Google, Bing, and other digital platforms ban cannabis ads.
Thankfully, they’re not the only places to advertise marijuana

Programmatic advertising leverages 420-friendly website
. It allows you to buy and sell cannabis ad space

Present your ads to specific audiences through
contextual and site retargeting.
Third-party audience
targeting is also an option. Use various media formats that work
for your brand. Choose from native and display ads to video and
audio ads.

Some programmatic advertising platforms offer live metrics too.
This means you can optimize your ad campaigns in real time. Of
course, compliance standards still apply.


Effective cannabis content compliance requires clear policy
guidelines. It’s not enough for the marketing team to
understand compliance. All C-suite executives, staff, outsourced
providers, and vendors must do so too.

Here are six key steps to creating content compliance
policy guidelines

Consult Experts in Cannabis Marketing Compliance

Work with a specialized marketing compliance firm.
Develop policy guidelines that adapt to the shifting legal
. Leverage their expertise to inform policy
changes, monitoring, and staff training.

Create and Distribute Content Compliance Rules

Draft a content compliance guide with all the do’s
and don’ts of cannabis marketing
. These rules should
include national, regional, and local laws. Set out the regulatory
requirements too.

Include rules for relevant aspects like digital content, social
media, and advertising. Create a list of rectifying steps
to take for any non-compliance

Keep Up With Changing Regulations

Designate a staff member or compliance officer to track
specific regulatory changes
. They must monitor cannabis
laws, platform rules, and any other relevant regulations. Establish
a system to monitor and incorporate regulatory changes.

Perform Regular Content Audits

Conduct routine content reviews to maintain compliance. Audit
all content. This includes website copy, social
media posts, digital ad copy, email campaigns, and videos
Identify and amend any content that may violate internal or
external compliance rules.

Implement Compliance Checks Before Publishing

Create a pre-publishing compliance review process. The
sign-off team must assess aspects like language, imagery, and
. This prevents any overlooked or unwitting


Navigating the legal labyrinth of compliance is no easy feat.
It requires specialized knowledge and know-how.
Teaming up with marketing compliance experts isn’t just
beneficial. It’s often essential.

Consider these key advantages:

Depth of Knowledge on Complex Regulations

Cannabis compliance experts understand the nuances of global,
regional, and local laws. They interpret tricky regulations
and apply them effectively
. Whether you’re marketing
globally or locally, compliance pros keep your cannabis content

The Best Tools and Resources for Compliance Monitoring

Experts in marketing compliance use top-quality tools to do
their jobs. They leverage the best resources and software.
This means 24/7 regulation and compliance

Expert Content Strategy and Creation

Cannabis content compliance experts know how to leverage laws
positively. They help develop impactful and compliant
content frameworks
. Well-versed in the legal complexities,
they ensure every content strategy meets compliance standards.

Seamless Content Review and Auditing

Content compliance is already complex for cannabis brands.
Auditing content for compliance is even more demanding. Experts
take this burden off of businesses.

They use meticulous and organized content review and auditing
processes. This ensures non-compliance is flagged and fixed
before any content goes live

Ongoing Compliance Monitoring and Changes

Cannabis markets are in a constant state of flux. The
rapidly-changing laws leave no space for compliance errors.
Given the strict legal penalties for non-compliance, having
‘always-on’ monitoring is invaluable


Cannabis is a thriving industry. There’s a customer for
everything, from CBD products and THC edibles to growing equipment
and financial services.

Now’s the best time to nurture your canna-business and watch
it grow like, well, weed.

Adopt a compliance-first approach. Know your
marijuana laws. Understand your marketing limitations. Ensure all
content abides by platform and legal rules.

So partner with experts. Develop a content compliance
. Monitor regulatory changes. Perform frequent
content audits and implement review processes.

Compliance isn’t an obstacle. It’s an enabler.

Invest in compliance to confidently maximize your reach
and returns

Learn more about future-proofing your brand with compliance here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

 Content compliance in the cannabis industry is absolute. There’s no space for a half-baked, glazed-over, or undercooked approach. The laws change constantly. The regulations are complex.  Read More