Marketing cannabis has always been a challenging endeavor. Cannabis advertising can go down to some blind alleys, from first amendment commercial speech concerns to excessive state marketing and promotion controls to false claim lawsuits.
It is notorious that tech behemoths like Instagram and Facebook would remove cannabis-related ads for breaking the terms and conditions of their websites regarding the advertising of illegal drugs and recreational drugs. Google, which is crucial for online advertising, was also included on this list.
Google, on the other hand, recently decided to alter its advertising regulations, at least concerning hemp and hemp CBD products. On Google, though, not all cannabis advertising is created equal. However, without running the risk of being shut down, you won’t be allowed to openly market your cannabis-related services.
More Details on Google’s CBD Advertising Changes
Google revealed last month that it was revising its policies on cannabis advertising. In California, Colorado, and Puerto Rico, the promotion of FDA-approved pharmaceuticals containing cannabidiol (CBD) and topical, hemp-derived CBD products with a THC content of 0.3% or less will be permitted under the Dangerous Products and Services and Healthcare and Medicines Google Ads policies beginning January 20, 2023. Additionally, Google’s list of prohibited pharmaceuticals and supplements will no longer include CBD.
According to Google, only topical CBD products that have been approved by LegitScript in the United States can be advertised. LegitScript is an internet and payments compliance company. It offers services for merchant monitoring, platform monitoring, and certification in high-risk industries.
All advertisers who wish to become certified must:
(1) Offer samples of their CBD products for testing for adherence to permitted THC levels.
(2) Deliver a third-party Certificate of Analysis to LegitScript.
FDA-approved CBD pharmaceutical products won’t receive LegitScript certification. To complete the procedure, LegitScript will collect a fee from each applicant. Following LegitScript, Google will certify all of the applications.
Standards for LegitScript CBD certification
The specific CBD certification criteria for cannabis advertising from LegitScript have already been made public. Among many other things, advertisers will need to:
- Show that the product complies with all applicable laws and regulations.
- Show that the product complies with any requirements for licensing or registration that may be necessary for the jurisdiction where it is made, processed, or marketed.
- For each product, provide the supply chain documents. The product must be produced in accordance with good manufacturing procedures and all applicable supply chain regulations.
- The applicant is required to offer a Certificate of Analysis proving that the CBD used in the finished product conforms with all applicable federal regulations on the growing and processing of hemp.
- Submit unused, random samples of the products you submitted for certification to a testing center authorized by LegitScript. Such goods must adhere to legal specifications for cannabis chemicals and ingredient levels and must contain the amount of hemp-derived compounds that are marketed.
- Show that the items you are submitting for certification were made in accordance with all USDA and state hemp growing regulations, or show that they are exempt from them in some other way.
- Prove that the application or product producer, along with any connected people, companies, or websites, has not recently or repeatedly engaged in illegal behavior that required disciplinary action or other regulatory action (e.g., those FDA letters). In LegitScript’s sole discretion, prior infractions or other bad behavior by the applicant or product manufacturer, including any prior regulatory penalties, may be a disqualifying factor.
- Conduct criminal background checks on the applicant’s corporate officers, directors, or anyone controlling important company decisions at LegitScript’s request. The same individuals must report any prior infractions of the law, whether they were criminal, administrative, or civil. Any legal action that has been brought, settled, or otherwise addressed that includes the applicant throughout the course of the previous ten years must also be disclosed by the applicant.
- Follow Google’s terms of service when advertising in any way. Your advertisement could be denied certification if LegitScript finds that it isn’t entirely kosher.
It’s clear that Google is doing everything it can to comply with the FDA’s current CBD policy. It doesn’t want to unintentionally help anyone trafficking cannabis with more than 0.3% THC or get caught helping to violate the FDA protocols.
As a result, no advertisements for additional CBD-based goods, such as dietary supplements, food additives, or inhalants, will be accepted. Unless there is a change in federal legislation, any product with more than 0.3% THC (i.e., cannabis) won’t be allowed on Google (despite state law to the contrary).
To sum up
While Google is allowing certain cannabis advertising for FDA-approved CBD and CBD topicals, getting past LegitScript’s vetting will be a somewhat difficult task for professionals who are not well versed in Google Ads like Spokes Digital is. Even so, it can be considered a step forward.
Please reach out to us if you have any queries.
Spokes Digital Team
 Wall Street Journal