Twitter updated its ad policy Wednesday, making it the first social media app in the U.S. to allow cannabis advertising. Google last month updated its policies to allow ads for FDA-approved pharmaceuticals containing CBD and topical, hemp-derived CBD products with THC content of 0.3% or less in California, Colorado and Puerto Rico. Reddit allows for ads for “topical and non-ingestible hemp-derived CBD products” in the U.S., and Meta allows some hemp product ads.
“The cannabis space on Twitter is fun and engaging with users Tweeting about their experiences using cannabis – whether medicinally, for wellness, or recreation – as well as recommending brands, products, and retail locations,” reads the Twitter blog post announcing the new guidelines. “The conversation also reflects where the cannabis industry is currently heading: legislative/policy reform, business development, and community impact.”
Twitter says the relaxed policy will create more opportunities for “responsible cannabis marketing.”
In both the U.S. and Canada, advertisers must be pre-authorized by Twitter and licensed by the proper authorities. They may not target customers under the age of 21. Twitter says advertisers can only target jurisdictions in which they are licensed to promote these products or services online. Additionally, in the U.S., ads can’t actually promote or offer the sale of cannabis or CBD, unless the ads are for topical, non-ingestible, hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC, per government regulations.
There are a range of other restrictions included in the updated policy — ads can’t use any character, sports person, celebrity or image/icon that might appeal to minors; no pregnant women or minors can be used in advertising; there can’t be claims of health benefits, nor any false or misleading claims; and certainly no depictions of someone lighting up a fattie.
It’s not surprising to see Twitter be the first social media platform to pioneer pot ads, considering who’s running the ship. CEO Elon Musk has admitted openly to smoking weed and even did so during a Joe Rogan podcast interview.
Musk has also championed fewer content restrictions on Twitter. The company rolled back its COVID-19 misinformation policy shortly after Musk took over.
It’s a risky move for Twitter to pull, as many brands won’t want to show their ads next to ads for recreational drugs. Twitter might be attempting to grab at more advertising revenue after reports of advertisers leaving the platform. According to a report from The Information, 500 of Twitter’s top advertisers have left since Musk took over the company, bringing advertising revenue down 40%.