As much as the cannabis industry doesn’t agree, the world sees recreational of marijuana as a vice. This puts it in the same category of other vices like tobacco, alcohol and pornography when it comes to public perception and governmental oversight. This negative impression, justified or not, along with the ambiguity of federal laws has made many large internet companies uneasy and unwilling to take money from questionable products.
This has created a huge disadvantage to cannabis companies that are trying to advertise their products and build their brands. The internet has become the most powerful tool for the entire advertising industry, and 2017 was the first year that internet ad spend surpassed television and the domination of digital ads are only predicted to increase for the foreseeable future.
Like other “vice” products, federal, state and local governments have passed laws limiting how cannabis can be marketed. California, for example, requires that, “any advertising or marketing placed in broadcast, cable, radio, print and digital communications shall only be displayed where at least 71.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older, as determined by reliable, up-to-date audience composition data.”