Google has maintained a strict ban on the advertising of marijuana and hemp products for as long as cannabis businesses can remember. This month, however, they have announced that they are lifting the ban in some US states, meaning that many cannabis businesses will now be able to advertise their products on Google. This may bring a whole new source of exposure to these companies. Want to learn what you can and can’t do to market your cannabusiness on Google? Keep reading!

Can you advertise cannabis products on Google in 2023?

In short, it depends. Google’s current Advertising Policies on ‘Dangerous products or services’ are very clear, and marijuana is explicitly not allowed under the ‘Recreational drugs’ category:

Screenshot of Google's Advertising Policies Highlighting Ban on Marijuana Advertising

However, Google has recently stated that starting January 20, 2023, they will update their policy to “allow for the promotion of FDA-approved pharmaceuticals containing cannabidiol (CBD) and topical, hemp-derived CBD products with THC content of 0.3% or less in California, Colorado, and Puerto Rico.” Since the main cannabidiol-containing pharmaceutical – a drug called Epidiolex used to treat severe seizure disorders – is federally approved, it seems odd that Google is lifting bans on marijuana advertising in only a few areas of the US. This feels like a positive move for cannabis marketers hoping to see less stringent regulations on product promotions come their way in the near future. Still, the timing begs the question…

Why is Google only allowing cannabis advertising in select regions – and why now?

It is not exactly clear why Google is choosing now to change their cannabis advertising restrictions in just two US states and one territory. When you consider that hemp derivatives and CBD products are still federally illegal, it is even more perplexing. Nonetheless, Google seems to be making an effort to accommodate a small segment of the nation’s hemp product peddlers. Up until now, advertisers were prohibited from promoting any kind of cannabis product on the world leading platform, FDA-approved or not. It looks like that is all about to change.

Google lifting bans on marijuana advertising may seem like a big first step, but they are taking precautions. Certain advertising formats, for example, will not be eligible for serving, such as YouTube Masthead, which enables you to “showcase your brand, product, or service in a native video-based ad format that appears in the YouTube Home feed across all devices,” reaching roughly 60 million people in a 24-hour period.

Additionally, Google will only allow advertisers to promote topical CBD products that have been certified by a third-party Portland, Oregon-based internet and payments compliance company called LegitScript. Cannabis marketers who wish to get their products certified for advertising on Google will be required to provide product samples to be tested for compliance with legal THC limits, as well as provide a third-party ‘Certificate of Analysis’. Visit the LegitScript website to learn more about LegitScript certification and to submit an application.

How can I advertise my cannabis business on Google without getting taken down?

If you don’t know the ins and outs of the platform, Google’s strict advertising policies make it difficult to promote anything cannabis related without getting your account flagged or suspended. Instead of wasting time paging through endless documents of policies and regulations to try and understand how to advertise your cannabis business on Google, why not reach out to a cannabis marketing agency? They will have the knowledge and experience to promote your business and its products and services within the legal limits while bringing in more customers and establishing your presence in the cannabis market. Cannabis Brands has over 20 years of agency experience successfully growing brands and businesses in the cannabis industry. Reach out to Cannabis Brands today for help with navigating Google’s cannabis advertising restrictions and receive a free consultation.

Click the link to read the full Google policy update: “Update to Dangerous Products and Services and Healthcare and Medicines (December 2022)

About Cannabis Brands

Cannabis Brands serves cannabis B2B corporations including labs, growers, and distributors providing award-winning marketing communication strategies that give you the competitive edge. Cannabis Brands is a branding, digital marketing and inbound marketing firm, specializing in the cannabis industry. Cannabis Brands provides branding, website development, digital advertising, inbound marketing, SEO and video production services. Grow your cannabis business with proven cannabis marketing and advertising strategies. Contact Linda Fanaras, CEO/Strategist at lfanaras@cannabisbrands.agency, or visit Cannabis Brands to learn more.