In Maryland, a government agency that oversees the local cannabis industry may limit the ability of dispensaries and other cannabis businesses to advertise through means such as social media, radio and billboards.
Last year, the state’s general assembly enacted a law that called on the state’s Medical Cannabis Commission to establish regulations regarding advertising for medical cannabis companies. The law required the commission to investigate similar laws in other localities and come up with its own.
The Current State of Cannabis Advertising Laws
Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and 21 of these have laws that restrict the advertising of cannabis to a certain degree.
These laws make it difficult for those who wish to advertise their cannabis-related business, especially in light of cannabis still being illegal according to federal laws. So far, some of the localities that have regulated cannabis advertising have restricted where advertising can be placed as well as restricted advertising based on what they believe will be the age of the audience. Others localities have been more restrictive. In some cases, they have banned all outdoor cannabis advertising, which includes not only billboards but also signs. Other states, such as Montana and Hawaii, have gone even further by banning all cannabis advertising.
Making matters even more difficult for cannabis companies, social media giants such as Google and Facebook have also banned cannabis advertising. What’s more, options for advertising on television and radio are limited as well. This means that cannabis companies must often focus their advertising efforts on websites, printed publications and other more traditional advertising media.
What Advertising Restrictions Are Being Considered in Maryland
At the moment, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is considering the following 3 measures relating to cannabis advertising:
- No cannabis business, including growers, processors, dispensaries, testing laboratories or certifying providers will be able to advertise on billboards or on television or radio. Nor will they will be allowed to advertise in a printed publication if more than 15% of its audience are under 18 years old, and they will only be allowed to advertise through electronic means — like a website or a mobile app — if such means verify that their users are over 18 years old. Furthermore, cannabis business will not be able to advertise on public property using means such as flyers, leaflets or handbills, and they will only be able to advertise on private property if the owner of the property consents.
- No cannabis advertisement will be able to make statements that the government considers misleading or false.
- Advertisements for medical cannabis will have to state that such products are limited to patients who qualify. The advertisements will also have to warn of the health risks associated with using medical cannabis, and they will have to include any other warnings the commission deems appropriate.
The Current State of Medical Cannabis Advertising in Maryland
With advertising of medical cannabis still legal in Maryland, many cannabis businesses there have been advertising on billboards. These billboards have appeared both in cities and along highways. Companies have also used media advertising.
Right now, there are over 100 cannabis businesses in the state, including almost 70 Maryland dispensaries, 15 processors, 14 growers and 5 testing labs. There are also consulting and prescribing groups. It is anticipated that another 100 dispensaries will soon open. At the beginning of 2018, there were only 20,000 registered patients in the state, but this number grew to more than 60,000 just nine months later.
The commission is expected to vote on the measures soon.