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.
With a growing number of states legalizing weed for recreational and medical purposes, the U.S. market could surge eight-fold to $80 billion in sales by 2030, according to Cowen & Co. But it’s hard to see that happening unless companies can market their wares the way beer and liquor companies do. After decades of prohibition, many consumers need a push to give marijuana a try.