Effective tomorrow, February 3, emergency rules become effective for Missouri marijuana businesses.
One of the most important things for Missouri cannabis brands to check is that their current and future advertising is compliant.
The emergency rules specify advertisement as “any dissemination of information by print, audio, or video means, whether through the media or otherwise, including but not limited to radio, television, motion pictures, newspapers, internet, email, texting, website, mobile applications, magazines or similar publications or other printed or graphic matter, or any electronic means.”
Operators must ensure that not only signage, but any of their advertising has been combed through to ensure that no potential violations exist.
While the rules are not applicable retroactively, going forward, operators will need to ensure that the new regulations are followed for more than traditional advertising but also for text or email alerts and social media posts, according to the language of the rules.
Some of the key elements that have been prevalent in previous advertising that operators should be aware of are restrictions on images or videos showing, among other things, the shape or any part a human, animal, or fruit.
That includes realistic, artistic, caricature, and cartoon renderings.
There’s little wiggle room in the interpretation of the rules and with the specific wording, operators should look to audit their existing inventory of product and promo photos as well as their future promotional materials.
“We’ve seen a lot of advertising and promotional material over the last few years that depicts product in hand or shows high-quality images of the fruits that the flavor profiles are based on,” said Greenway’s Brandon Dunn said. “It’s important to know what assets you have that will need to be replaced or updated and what will no longer be compliant. The Department has said that they will be issuing guidance or a FAQ regarding advertising, but to date, we haven’t seen that.”
“In the interim, the best advice for operators in the state is to ensure that any material which shows marijuana or marijuana product is absent the inclusion of any items listed in the rules.”
As far as brands are concerned, the rules are specific in that reference to “advertisement of marijuana.”
“Advertising a brand or a facility, like a dispensary, is not the same as advertising marijuana according to the definitions,” Dunn continued. “With that in mind, operators should have the opportunity to be creative in how they execute advertising for their brands.”
Constitutional language forbids regulations on advertising for marijuana from being more restrictive than those imposed on alcohol in the state.
“While the department shall have the general power to regulate the advertising and promotion of marijuana sales, under all circumstances, any such regulation shall be no more stringent than comparable state regulations on the advertising and promotion of alcohol sales.”
“That language should be a focal point for licensees in the state when choosing: where, how, and what to advertise. Finding the right advertising partners and tailoring your approach to your partners or dissemination method will be integral for success,” Dunn concluded.