Amidst the recent expansion in legalized recreational and medical Cannabis industry, one of the biggest challenges businesses face is how to advertise and promote without violating state and federal regulations. This is especially difficult due to the fact that Cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 substance.

Standard marketing techniques are no longer applicable due to heavily regulated advertising laws, which vary drastically in different states. Nevertheless, email marketing falls into an unclear green area when it comes to marketing Cannabis.

However, before it is possible to go into Cannabis and Email Marketing the first thing to be considered is the SparkPost messaging policies.

SparkPost’s current policies state the following:

In compliance with the Law, Customer’s use of SparkPost Services must comply with all applicable laws, rules, regulations, ordinances, and court orders of any kind of any jurisdiction applicable to Customer, SparkPost, and to any Recipient.

For the sake of simplification purpose, the use of Washington state as the state law example. Below is a simplified outline that most apply to Cannabis Email Marketing:

(2) General. All marijuana advertising and labels of useable marijuana and marijuana-infused products sold in the state of Washington may not contain any statement or illustration that:

(a) Is false or misleading;
(b) Promotes overconsumption;
(c) Represents the use of marijuana has curative or therapeutic effects;
(d) Depicts a child or other person under the legal age to consume marijuana

(5) All advertising must contain the following warnings:

(a) “This product has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming.”;
(b) “Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug.”;
(c) “There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product.”; and
(d) “For use only by adults twenty-one and older. Keep out of the reach of children.”

Based on these regulations and policies, it would seem that Cannabis businesses are extremely restricted on their ability to promote brands and products. On the other hand, there is some flexibility in this legal haze.

When speaking with our Manager of Deliverability and Compliance Operations as well as the SparkPost Legal team, the following types of Cannabis messages will be permitted on the platform:

  • Transactional Mail (receipts, order confirmations, password resets, and etc.) For a detailed explanation on what is considered transactional, please refer to the following post: https://www.sparkpost.com/use-cases/transactional-email/

  • Political messaging on the legalities and the current climate of Cannabis regulations
  • Informational messaging about new products and/or Cannabis Strains

The exceptions to the conditions above are as follows:

  • Content being sent out from Cannabis recreational and/or medical stores will need to reviewed and approved by our SparkPost Compliance team on a case by case basis.
    • If your store is interested in becoming a SparkPost customer, please reach out to [email protected] for approval
  • Messages to states where Cannabis is not legal will not be tolerated
  • Attempts to sell Cannabis or include accessible links in messages for purchasing Cannabis products in legalized and unregulated states will be reported to the respective governing authorities.

When navigating the legalities of Cannabis advertising and marketing, SparkPost is willing to work with a range of Cannabis businesses and brands, as long as said businesses and brands are able to provide engaging and legally abiding content.

*The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, the information in this post is for general informational purposes only.

~ Amara

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