Following the recent submission of final rules set forth by the Division of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) in Missouri, it is crucial for cannabis companies to evaluate their advertising practices to ensure compliance. The guidelines provided by the DCR outline the permissible methods and restrictions for advertising marijuana products in the state. By adhering to these rules, businesses can maintain legal operations and avoid potential penalties. Here’s what companies need to know when assessing their advertising strategies.
Understand the Definition of “Advertisement”: According to the regulations, an advertisement encompasses various forms of information dissemination, including print, audio, and video means, such as billboards, radio, television, newspapers, internet, email, texting, websites, mobile applications, and magazines. However, certain exceptions are made for packaging and labels of marijuana products and unpaid editorial content.
Comply with Municipal Ordinances, State Law, and Rules: All advertising and marketing activities related to marijuana products must adhere to applicable municipal ordinances, state law, and regulatory rules governing signs and advertising. Businesses should ensure they are familiar with these guidelines to avoid any violations.
Avoid False or Misleading Representations: Companies must refrain from making any false or misleading claims in their marijuana advertisements. Misrepresenting the curative or therapeutic effects of marijuana is strictly prohibited unless such statements have been evaluated and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ensuring accurate and truthful information is crucial to maintain consumer trust and compliance.
Steer Clear of Content Attractive to Children: Any advertising material that might appeal to children is prohibited. This includes using animal or fruit shapes, realistic or artistic renderings, caricatures, cartoons, or any human-like figures. Businesses should take caution to ensure their advertisements do not inadvertently target minors.
Consistency with Branding and Labeling: Advertisements should align with the information provided on the marijuana product labels. Statements concerning a brand of marijuana must be consistent with the labeling information. Ensuring coherence between advertising messages and product details is essential to avoid misleading consumers.
Comply with Local Signage Ordinances: Outdoor signage and interior signage visible from public rights of way must comply with local ordinances governing signs and advertising. Businesses should review their signage to ensure it adheres to these regulations. With the addition of the word billboard, ensure that the same standards are met off premises as well.
Accurate Representation of Legal Name and Trade Names: Licensees must accurately reflect their legal name, business name, “doing business as” (d/b/a) name, or trade name on all exterior signage and advertising. This information should match the records maintained by the regulatory authorities.
Assess Existing and Future Advertising: Companies should thoroughly review their current and future advertising materials, including social media accounts, websites, and any other digital or print platforms. Conducting a comprehensive assessment will help identify potential compliance issues and rectify them promptly.
Enforcement and Complaints: DCR’s current enforcement of advertising regulations relies on complaint-based mechanisms. While this may lead to some compliance issues going unnoticed, it also means that a single complaint could trigger an investigation, potentially resulting in multiple violations. Companies should proactively ensure compliance with advertising rules to avoid any legal repercussions.
Review Previous Materials: Since the regulations governing advertising in Missouri are similar to the emergency rules issued in February, companies should thoroughly examine their previous advertising materials for compliance. Identifying any non-compliant content and rectifying it will help maintain adherence to the regulations moving forward.
By diligently evaluating their advertising practices in light of Missouri’s regulations, cannabis companies can navigate the complex landscape while maintaining compliance and building a reputable brand in the market.
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