The Legality of Influencers Working with Cannabis Brands
The legality of social media influencers working with cannabis and CBD companies is a complex and evolving issue. While many cannabis and CBD brands are now actively seeking to work with social media influencers in order to promote their products, there are certain limitations on what these influencers can and cannot say or do when promoting these products.
Is It Legal?
The short answer is YES, to a certain extent. According to a recent Forbes article, “Social media platforms, including Meta's Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, restrict cannabis-related businesses from allowing paid advertisements for their products and services. However, cannabis influencers can operate in a legal gray zone, where they are allowed to promote their personal use and recommendations of cannabis without offering direct sales.”
It is best to assume that social media influencers are not familiar about FTC guidelines when it comes to cannabis regulations, which is why it is crucial that in the contract formation stage, there is a clear understanding of what the influencer can and cannot say when advertising the cannabis products. Otherwise “cannabis companies could risk penalties, false advertising lawsuits, or even losing their expensive hard earned licenses”, according to Griffen Thorne of Harris Bricken Attorney. An important distinction to make here is that even though the cannabis company may have done nothing wrong, if the influencer breaks regulations, the company will be held liable. It is crucial for cannabis companies who want to work with influencers to have to go through a detailed training process that will ensure that they are advertising to the public in a legal manner.
Where Is It Legal?
As mentioned above, paid cannabis advertising on major social media networks is a no-go. Because Cannabis companies are governed by federal law, until cannabis is legalized at the federal level paid advertising on social media is considered a violation of social advertising policies. However, organic posting is an option, with a few caveats. Read along for some things to be aware of before running a Cannabis related marketing campaign with influencers.
3 Things You Should Know Before Running a Cannabis Related Campaign
1. Learn the regulations
One of the main challenges that cannabis and CBD brands face when working with social media influencers is navigating the complicated regulatory landscape surrounding these products. While many states have legalized cannabis and CBD for either medical or recreational use, other states continue to prohibit it, which means that any marketing activities related to these products must be carried out very carefully.
2. Full disclosure of relationship with the brand
In general, it is considered acceptable for social media influencers to post about cannabis or CBD products on their channels, as long as they fully disclose their relationship with the brand. However, there are some things that social media influencers should avoid doing if they want to remain compliant with state regulations governing the marketing of these products. For example, they should not make any explicit claims about the health benefits of using cannabis or CBD, as this would potentially violate state laws regarding misleading advertising practices.
3. Be aware of specific media that can/cannot be shared
Another thing that social media influencers should be aware of is that they may not be allowed to share images or videos featuring actual marijuana plants or products containing THC (the active ingredient in cannabis). Instead, they may need to stick to sharing images or videos featuring hemp-based oils and other hemp-derived products, which contain only trace amounts of THC and thus do not violate state regulations regarding marijuana consumption.
Despite these regulatory restrictions, there are many examples of successful collaborations between cannabis brands and social media influencers that highlight how powerful this promotional tactic can be for driving product awareness and sales. For example, one popular YouTube star partnered with a leading manufacturer of vape pens in order to promote their new line of pod mods. In addition to creating engaging content around this collaboration on her channel, she also worked with the company to create unique video content highlighting some of their other products as well.
Overall, while there are certain legal restrictions that must be taken into account when working with social media influencers in the world of cannabis and CBD marketing, there is also considerable opportunity for success if done correctly. So if you're looking to work with a social media influencer as part of your marketing efforts for a cannabis or CBD brand, it is important to do your due diligence in researching which ones will best resonate with your target audience based on their interests and past engagement metrics. Book a free consultation HERE with one of our brand specialists to learn more about working with one of our talents.