How to Promote Your Cannabis Business Online


There are a variety of different, creative ways to promote your retail business, but once you start selling cannabis, most of those avenues become out of reach. There are still many legality issues with cannabis, and many states still do not allow brands to sell within their borders, which means many advertising mediums do not even want to get involved with the promotion of cannabis. 

This begs the question: how can cannabis brands advertise themselves online? Believe it or not, there are still quite a few ways to promote your brand, so long as you follow certain rules. Leaf Retailer breaks down the different places you can and cannot advertise, as well as the specific rules that are required in order to promote your company. 

Avoid Common Keywords. 

In order to be successful and prevent your account from getting shadowbanned or shut down all together, Jesse Rudendall, Head of Business Development at Metolius Hemp Company, says that retailers must use creative language and slang workarounds on social media platforms. Examples of this include writing “h3mp,” “c/b/d,” or even using emojis like 🍀🌿🍃🌱💨😮‍💨 can help prevent your post from getting flagged.

Focus on Educational Content or Events Other Than Cannabis. 

Business owners can position their brand as an education resource, so instead of promoting your products, you can instead promote the different ways that cannabis can help users, according to Jordan Guzzardo, Director of Marketing at Medical Marijuana, Inc. (OTC: MJNA). This is a great way to become both a source of information as well as create legitimacy and credibility for your business. If you are planning on setting up a booth at a local farmers market or event, you can create content around that specific event to also help build awareness and promote yourself. 

Create Lifestyle Content Rather Than Focusing on Your Products. 

Since you cannot sell cannabis on social media, many brands and dispensaries try to make lifestyle accounts by indicating it is cannabis related without posting the actual products. Instead of posting a picture of someone smoking a joint, Blaise Lucey, VP of Marketing at Surfside, suggests that you post a picture of a festival, your storefront, or your favorite employee. Your viewers will get the hint without you explicitly showing cannabis. 

Utilize Influencers to Promote Cannabis. 

It is well known that influencers can help brands sell anything, and the same still applies for cannabis. Rudendall says influencers can easily be paid through commission and complimentary products from your line, which mostly depends on how many followers they have. 

Build Up Contact Lists for Email and SMS Marketing. 

Email and SMS messaging are great marketing methods for cannabis businesses because you’re connecting directly to customers without the policy restrictions of social media platforms. Be aware that some email senders do not allow cannabis customers to utilize their service. Some good options are:

When collecting email addresses and sending campaigns, be sure to abide by local advertising laws. You need to be careful that you are not sending messages to minors or offering promotions that would be illegal.

Partner with Brands and Publishers that are Cannabis-friendly. 

There are plenty of private channels and publishers willing to partner with cannabis companies, especially if you can tell a story. Lucey says that Rolling Stone, Wired, GQ, and many other brands as well as cannabis-specific magazines and websites would be happy to connect with your company, especially if there’s a benefit or interest to their readers.

Jump to a section:

Can you advertise cannabis or cbd on Google?

No. Google does not allow advertising for cannabis or CBD products. It will also not allow advertising to associated websites.

How to approach it.

You can however, boost your organic ranking using traditional SEO tactics and good quality content. Make sure your dispensary or business is listed on google maps. Claim, update the listing, and respond to any reviews. Anyone looking up your company will most likely see the google profile for your local address before anything else.

Can you advertise cannabis or cbd on facebook?

Maybe. Facebook does not allow images or words directly linked to cannabis. However, there are some work-arounds.

How to approach it.

You can tweak the wording to avoid the system’s automatic disapproval flags. Images can be watermarked or not directly related to the product. Have tailored landing pages with URLs and content not directly stating CBD or cannabis. Facebook Messenger can be used to connect with customers through chatbots or special offers.

Can you advertise cannabis or cbd on Twitter?

No for cannabis. CBD advertisers must be licensed and pre-authorized by Twitter. You can promote topical CBD but nothing ingestible. Advertisers are limited to regions where they are legally able to sell products, which may omit many states. You cannot promote to users under 21.

How to approach it.

You won’t be able to do paid advertising unless you can fall into the above requirements. However, you can have a regular twitter account. Avoid actively promoting your products and instead focus on lifestyle, events, and other aspects of your business. Use the same hashtags as other industry experts and influencers. This will let you piggy-back on that traffic and attention in the industry.

Can you advertise cannabis or cbd on youTube?

No for cannabis. Youtube is owned by Google, which has strict prohibitions against cannabinoids. However, CBD has been allowed more recently on youtube as a medical substance.

How to approach it.

Although you may be restricted from paid advertising, a youtube channel can drive traffic and brand awareness. Instead of focusing on products, stick to culture, events, education, and dispensary tours. Videos must be tagged “for adults only” and include disclaimers depending on which state your physical location is.

Can you advertise cannabis or cbd on Twitch?

No. Twitch does have an advertising policy against cannabis products, vaping and CBD.

How to approach it.

Although they have a policy restricting content, the platform tends to be lenient on enforcement. Streamers should avoid smoking on-camera, mark their streams ‘for mature audience’, and avoid negative attention to the channel. Focus on a positive attitude, personality, and content beyond just cannabis.

Can you advertise cannabis or cbd on snapchat?

Topical CBD is ok, but nothing ingestible. Cannabis is not allowed when it comes to paid advertising.

How to approach it.

Be funny and creative with your channel. You can drive plenty of awareness to your brand without pitching products or spending on ads. You want short clips that will get a reaction or tell a tiny story. A personal daily reflection or selfie serves better than ad promotions and product pitches. Collaborate with other personalities to expand your audience.

Can you advertise cannabis or cbd on TikTok?

No. TikTok considers them recreational drugs and you could get banned.

How to approach it.

Tiktok is quick to ban videos that use traditional smoking terms. You can get around it by misspelling words or using emojis, but it’s better to stick within their policies to avoid a shadowban. Like other platforms, stick to content outside of cannabis and be creative with your content. Personality and education will get you farther than advertising. Connect with other industry personalities and influencers to expand your reach.

Can you advertise cannabis or cbd on Instagram?

No. Ads for CBD topicals may get approved if reviewed by a moderator. Make sure the landing site is compliant with their policies and only mentions CBD topicals.

How to approach it.

Very carefully. The goal with Instagram is to not give moderators an excuse to close the account. Avoid sales language and wordage related to cannabis use and culture. Add an age requirement to your profile. Stay personable and professional. Avoid imagery and video showing cannabis consumption. Focus on a brand identity and story instead of products. Celebrate your local area, events, storefront and people. Connect with your followers.

Can you advertise cannabis or cbd on Pinterest?

No for cannabis products and paraphernalia.

How to approach it.

You can post images and mentions in your profile and direct them to your website. Use plenty of tags and keep the content informational and relevant to your brand.

Can you advertise cannabis or cbd on Reddit?

Reddit policy states that cannabis is prohibited, but non-ingestible hemp derived CBD is allowed. Advertising must target adults only and in states where topical CBD is legal.

How to approach it.

Many communities support CBD and cannabis which you can become involved in. You can also build your own subreddit focusing on a topic relevant to your brand. These can be culture, business, or product related. Provide useful information to the community and include non-aggressive backlinking to your site. Stay relevant and professional and avoid heated debates.

Can you advertise cannabis or cbd on Tumblr?

Tumblr does allow some cannabis advertising to California, Colorado, Illinois and Massachusetts. These ads need to go through their sales team and will be geo-targeted to those states only. 

CBD ads are allowed, but they can’t claim to be a cure, supplement, or food item. Having specific landing pages for products will allow you to remain compliant and still take advantage of their paid advertising.

How to approach it.

Marketing messages on tumblr can be images, video, or text/mini-blogs. Use tags with your content and be prepared to respond to users. This platform is unique and requires some getting used to.

Can you advertise cannabis or cbd on LinkedIn?

Maybe. Although the platform does not allow direct marketing of cannabis products, you may get CBD or cannabis-related ads through if the content is informational. Ad reviews are by actual people, so if one gets rejected you may try changing it a little and sending it again in the hopes that someone else reviews it.

How to approach it.

LinkedIn is more about networking than connecting with customers. You are building brand awareness and connecting with other professionals in your industry or local area. Again, informational and educational content will go a long way. Stay professional and inspirational in your messaging. Videos and articles will work great. Include hashtags and focus on brand awareness rather than product sales.