As cannabidiol (CBD) continues to grow in popularity, the industry is becoming increasingly competitive. CBD business owners have been forced to resort to creative measures in their marketing efforts. Many CBD companies often ignore the various rules and regulations associated with CBD advertising online. However, it is important for CBD businesses and entrepreneurs to pursue compliant marketing strategies for their products to avoid account suspensions, government enforcement actions, or other business interruptions.
Consulting with an experienced CBD lawyer is advised to ensure accurate and up-to-date knowledge regarding CBD advertising legalities. As always, it is of tantamount importance to ensure your advertising complies with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) stance on CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in addition to the respective platform policies outlined below. Additionally, it is imperative to ensure that your labels and packaging of hemp-derivative products comply with both federal and state laws and regulations. Below, we discuss the policies of three popular platforms for advertising CBD.
CBD Market Overview
CBD is becoming increasingly more mainstream every day. Studies and trials are ongoing that show the potential of this cannabinoid, and many claims are constantly being made regarding CBD’s ability to help mitigate chronic pain, seizures, anxiety, cancer, and more. Currently, the FDA considers these claims to be impermissible when made in conjunction with advertising a CBD product. As the buzz around CBD continues to boom, some analysts predict that the CBD industry could reach $20 billion by 2024.
Given the rate of accelerated growth, the legalities surrounding the industry are playing “catch-up.” It can be difficult to remain apprised of the rules and regulations governing the CBD and hemp industry, as they are constantly in flux. Accordingly, CBD advertising still lacks definitive clarity on a unified level, as state laws on marketing, packaging, and labeling may differ. In an e-commerce world, online advertising is essential for CBD companies and the FDA is cracking down on CBD companies for violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act through their online marketing. Understanding the ins and outs of CBD online advertising is integral to the survival and success of your CBD business.
Advertising CBD on Google
Google’s list of unapproved pharmaceuticals and supplements includes CBD. This means that any Google ad or web page connected to an ad cannot have the words cannabidiol or CBD anywhere on them. Choosing to ignore this policy could result in a website audit or account suspension. Additionally, Google’s general advertising policies contain several sections of prohibited content that could also pertain to CBD advertising, including dangerous products and services, healthcare and medicines, misrepresentation, and more.
As the most prevalent search engine, Google is often the first place CBD entrepreneurs turn to for their marketing efforts. Since advertising CBD on Google is technically prohibited, most brands primarily rely on improving the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) value of their website using alternative strategies. It is important to remember that just because you see CBD ads on Google, it does not mean that they are legal. Discussing your options with a qualified CBD attorney is always recommended.
Advertising CBD on Facebook
Facebook’s advertising policies outline several restrictions regarding illegal substances and prohibited content. Though Facebook’s terms do not specifically mention CBD, there are provisions addressing illegal products and services, tobacco-related products, drug-related products, and unsafe supplements. Though CBD is legal in commerce, the FDA still prohibits certain goods, which makes Facebook’s regulations somewhat unclear as they pertain to CBD. Additionally, the provision regarding tobacco products prohibits vaporizers from being advertised on Facebook, which would include CBD vaporizers or “CBD vapes.” Because of CBD’s unusual legal position, depending on several factors, these provisions have caused complications and even sparked a lawsuit.
Though Facebook has relaxed its total ban, advertising CBD on Facebook takes significant time, creativity, and effort. Advertisements cannot specifically feature CBD products, even for ads with respective landing pages. To advertise CBD on Facebook, brands must create a new business account, omitting terms like “CBD” in the name, domain, or anywhere on the page. Images of CBD products are acceptable, but keywords related to CBD always trigger heightened monitoring. These ads must avoid making direct benefit claims or any sort of product mention.
Advertising CBD on Instagram
Instagram makes advertising CBD just as complicated as its parent company, Facebook, does. With tons of stringent advertising regulations and requirements, Instagram has rendered direct CBD advertising nearly impossible for brands. Under Instagram’s Community Guidelines, users are encouraged to “follow the law.” This section prohibits the advertising and sale of illegal drugs “even if legal in your region.”
Accordingly, CBD businesses take full advantage of “influencer marketing.” Instagram influencers, or those with a significant following, partner with CBD brands to share products on their story or on their feed. This method allows CBD companies to advertise their products in an indirect fashion, sometimes making millions of impressions on users. When using an Instagram influencer, it is of tantamount importance that your company has a written agreement with the influencer governing who owns the content, permissible and non-permissible postings, and trademark usage guidelines, among other considerations. A CBD lawyer can assist you in securing a contract with an influencer that will protect your brand.
In the CBD industry, regulations on both paid advertising and social media advertising fluctuate frequently. The information in this blog is current as of the posted date, but the information herein is always subject to change. Check with your CBD attorney for up-to-date guidance. Your CBD lawyer can also assist you in pre-reviewing marketing material to ensure that it is compliant with federal and state law prior to dissemination.
Our hemp lawyers work with a wide range of CBD businesses and entrepreneurs. If you are seeking legal help regarding CBD, hemp, and/or cannabis, contact Ritter Spencer or give us a call at 214.295.5074 for more information.