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Advertising Weed Is Tough When the Feds Consider You a Drug Dealer

Facebook, Google and the TV networks don’t accept cannabis ads, so marijuana sellers are opening stores, holding workshops and promoting their wares on Howard Stern. 

An employee helps a customer select marijuana strains at the MedMen dispensary in West Hollywood, California.

An employee helps a customer select marijuana strains at the MedMen dispensary in West Hollywood, California.

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
Updated on

America’s cannabis companies are racing to build national brands and market their wares to mainstream consumers. There’s just one problem: It’s hard to advertise your product when the federal government considers you a drug dealer. 

Facebook, which like Google prohibits marijuana ads, has kicked some weed sellers off Instagram. Earlier this month CBS declined to air a commercial touting the benefits of medical marijuana during the Super Bowl. Much the way banks are unwilling to finance cannabis startups, television networks and online advertising marketplaces are understandably cautious because the Feds still classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug alongside heroin and ecstasy.