There is an ongoing battle to legalize marijuana use and advocates are clamoring for lawmakers to say “yes” in decriminalizing cannabis.
The cannabis industry is a big business that is booming because of its current legislative battle. Soon, there is no stopping the mainstream marketing and advertising of marijuana. Currently, 18 states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes and 17 of these states decriminalized the substance. Meanwhile, only Washington and Colorado allow freedom of marijuana use.
The legalization of marijuana is one thing, but advertising it is another. Currently, advertising marijuana is like advertising fronting drug use for the whole world to see. “Pot” ads were nothing new as it is all over the internet wherein selling of cannabis is also rampant. Leafly app that helps users find, rate and review different kinds of marijuana ran a full page ad in The New York Times last year. The newspaper expressed its support for the legalization of cannabis.
Although the legislative body approves of marijuana use, there are obstacles that must be surpassed to make it appear in the public more and be available conspicuously. The following are the top five barriers in marijuana advertising.
1. People think marijuana is still taboo.
Since people were used to speak about marijuana in low, reverent tones, they still think that marijuana is still a taboo subject to discuss in public. In a survey published in Drugfree.org, 1,603 Americans were polled and while 70 percent of the respondents agree that marijuana should be legalized and 43 percent bravely admitted smoking it, a solid 80 percent find distaste in blatantly advertising the substance. Moreover, almost everyone refused to reveal their dealer. This data showed that while people are in favor of legalizing marijuana, they are still uncomfortable with its prevalence.
2. People (Parents) are uncomfortable with children seeing the ads.
Some people (mostly parents) are against seeing advertisements pertaining to marijuana use. This is due to the fact that the ads are very influential to children and they mostly believe what they see in mass media. This feeling is similar to how parents feel about ads for tobacco and alcohol products.
3. Marijuana sales and regulations are not finalized.
Although some states said “yes” to the use of marijuana, the full legalization of the substance is still a long way. Each state has to hammer even the finest details about its use.
4. Advertising marijuana is still a crime (in some states).
In some states that still consider marijuana as an illegal substance, advertising it is against the law. This is because ads for illegal activities are not protected by the constitution for free speech. Advertisements for marijuana use, production, retail, etc. is considered as a federal offense. Authorities can go after ad agencies as well as broadcasters and publishers.
5. Americans are not yet ready for prominence of marijuana.
Are Americans ready to buy and sell marijuana in the streets and in stores? Making it accessible to everyone includes various risks like abuse. Former Microsoft executive turned marijuana advocate Jamen Shively said that he is willing to raise $10 million for Starbucks-style stores that will allow users to savor and enjoy various strains of marijuana. According to Shively, legalization of marijuana should enable users to enjoy the substance in a particular place like how we relish a cup of coffee, a premium chocolate, or a fine cigar. However, are we ready for this kind of stores knowing that anyone can purchase marijuana?
The aforementioned issues are the roadblocks that marijuana advocates should overcome in order to get ahead in marijuana advertising.