Twitter opens up THC, CBD advertising

‘This policy change helps further the mainstream acceptance of cannabis as a plant, a substance and an industry’

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Twitter has quietly moved to open up its advertising guidelines for regulated THC and CBD products and services in the U.S.

An update on the company’s website notes that, subject to restriction, Twitter will “permit approved Cannabis (including CBD– cannabinoids) advertisers to target the United States.”

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Beyond products containing THC and CBD, Twitter will also allow ads for related products and services, like labs and growing technology.

AdCann, an Ontario-based cannabis marketing and advertising website, first reported on the policy shift, noting that previously only CBD topical brands were permitted to advertise on the platform.

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Under the new guidelines, cannabis-related advertisers must be pre-authorized by Twitter and licensed by the appropriate authorities and can only target jurisdictions in which they are licensed to promote their products or services.

Ads promoting or offering the sale of cannabis remain prohibited, save for hemp-derived CBD topical products that contain 0.3 per cent THC or less, the U.S. federal limit.

Advertisers may not target customers under the age of 21 and landing pages must be age-gated. Claims of efficacy, health benefits, or ads that depict people using cannabis are also not allowed.

For Canadian brands, it appears not much has changed, as the platform already allowed restricted cannabis advertising.

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Similar to the rules for the U.S., Canadian cannabis advertisers must be licensed by Health Canada and pre-authorized by Twitter and may only promote informational or brand-preference content.

Advertising content that communicates information about price or distribution, offers a testimony or endorsement or presents a person, character or animal remains prohibited.

Despite the restrictions, the policy shift makes Twitter the first major social network to allow cannabis advertising in the U.S.

AdCann commended Twitter for “making a brave move and creating a new advertising avenue for cannabis marketers.”

“This policy change helps further the mainstream acceptance of cannabis as a plant, a substance and an industry. Twitter treating cannabis like any other regulated CPG category will hopefully encourage other social networks, marketing platforms and government regulatory agencies to do the same,” the agency noted.

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Facebook, which acquired Instagram in 2012 for US$1 billion, prohibits “attempts by individuals, manufacturers, and retailers to purchase, sell, or trade non-medical drugs, pharmaceutical drugs, and marijuana,” according to the company’s community standards.

On Instagram, the policy is similar, with the platform noting that it “doesn’t allow people or organizations to use the platform to advertise or sell marijuana, regardless of the seller’s state or country.”

Noted cannabis inhaler Elon Musk bought Twitter last October in a $44 billion deal. Musk has long tweeted about cannabis and it seems a tweet earlier this month, that simply read “420” may have foreshadowed the recent changes.

Rick Moscone, partner with Fogler, Rubinoff LLP and the co-chair of a cannabis marketing group from the Canadian Marketing Association, previously told The GrowthOp that tech giants have cracked down on cannabis content from legal companies because there is currently no incentive to allow it.

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“This is not that important to them from a business perspective,” he said. “They’ve got other battles that they’re fighting. They’re looking at this and saying we don’t need to be caught in the middle here. There are not enough dollars to be made. We’ll wait until there’s absolute clarity around this stuff and then we’ll play in this sandbox.”

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