A Resinate billboard on Massachusetts’s I-95
If you work in Massachusett’s relatively new cannabis industry, you know that the rules and regulations that govern this industry are constantly being written, challenged, and changed.
One of the most recent examples? Billboard laws.
Specifically, a proposed law that would prohibit cannabis companies in the state from advertising on billboards. The new bill’s supporters argue that cannabis companies advertising on billboards are breaking the law by advertising to minors. On the other hand, those in the cannabis industry say that there are already too many regulations that tie their hands when it comes to advertising, making it difficult to run a business.
What does this mean for cannabis marketing? Let’s dig in.
What You Need to Know About Massachusetts’ Cannabis Billboard Laws
The Laws That Are On The Books
In 2016, Massachusetts voters passed a ballot initiative that made recreational marijuana legal in the Bay State. Two years later, dispensaries began opening their doors and selling marijuana products to Massachusetts residents 18 years and older.
There are already a lot of laws on the books that regulate nearly everything about the cannabis industry, including how, where, and what cannabis companies can advertise. For instance, in Massachusetts, your logo and advertising copy cannot reference marijuana or cannabis in any way, including colloquial or cultural references. Cannabis companies can’t give away tchotchkes or advertise on the biggest social media platform in the world–Facebook (although that is due to the tech company’s Terms of Service, not a Massachusetts law).
To serve as guidance, Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission has adopted a general regulation that places “reasonable restrictions on signs, marketing, displays and advertising with respect to marijuana, marijuana products, and marijuana accessories, including prohibiting marketing or advertising designed to appeal to children.”
If you drive down I-93 on your daily commute, you might see billboards advertising everything from lawyers to health insurance to cannabis. For instance, one billboard in Connecticut advises drivers that marijuana is legal just 60 miles away, across the Bay State’s borders. Another tells the town of Springfield to “smile” because “weed is legal.”
But some say that these billboards are breaking the last part of that guiding regulation from the Mass Cannabis Control Commission “prohibiting marketing or advertising designed to appeal to children.”
The Proposed Law
Those that are worried about these cannabis billboards targeting children are going to be happy to hear about Bill S.2461, or “An Act Banning Marijuana Billboards.” The bill is simple; it proposes that billboards be removed from the approved list of advertising methods that cannabis companies can use, and that using the advertising medium be explicitly banned for cannabis products.
The bill was presented by Senator Dana Dizoglio in December 2019 and has since been referred to the committee on Cannabis Policy.
The Anti-billboard Argument
Senator Dizoglio told reporters that the law prohibits cannabis advertising “in communities where children are going to be exposed to them…But we know that isn’t happening.” She cited a billboard that was taken down from a bus station in Haverhill for this reason.
Other proponents, including anti-legalization groups, argue that those under 18 should not use marijuana, and one way to reduce this occurrence is by preventing them from seeing the product advertised. Twitter users provided the illuminating, nuanced conversation one might expect from the social media site: one user called billboards a “bad look,” while another cryptically called billboards “Literally (and sadly) a sign of the times. Stoned society, spiraling downward.”
The Pro-billboard Argument
On the flip-side, many in the Massachusetts cannabis business are unhappy about the idea of even more regulations on the industry. David O’Brien, president of the Massachusetts Cannabis Business Association, was surprised by the bill because he considers the regulations for the industry “already very strict” and believes that adding more laws will prevent cannabis businesses “ability to reach customers.”
Others in the industry are frustrated that marijuana is more harshly regulated than substances like alcohol or tobacco, which studies have shown are more dangerous than weed.
Some people simply don’t understand what all the fuss is about. One Twitter user added this to the conversation about cannabis billboards in Massachusetts: “No problem at all. It’s legal. Everyone on my street smokes. Guess what? It’s quiet.”
What This Means For Cannabis Marketing
We can’t see the future so we don’t know if this bill is going to pass or not. But we do know that if you work in the cannabis industry, it’s important to understand what this all means for your business’s advertising.
Customer Care Is Crucial
When your advertising methods are reduced, what can you rely on to build your business? Word of mouth. We know it’s OG, but personal recommendations and customer retention policies are the best way to build your cannabis company in a heavily regulated state like Massachusetts.
It seems like every day, new dispensaries and growers are cropping up in the Bay State. You know what that means–more competition. If you want to keep the customers who you already have and beat out those other businesses to get new customers’ business, customer service has to be at the top of your list.
One of the best ways to do this digitally is to invest in a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software. A good one like Hubspot or Salesforce will help you stay connected with your customers, streamline your sales processes, and even boost your profits.
A lot of people don’t realize this, but a big part of digital customer care is having an up-to-date, well designed, fast website. A website with a great user experience will make your brand stand out to potential and current customers. Plus, if they can easily find the information they need and take whatever actions they want, your conversions will increase.
Want to Grow Your Cannabis Company?
Of course, customer service is only one way to grow your cannabis brand. But we’re not going to give away all of our secrets! Call or email us to chat more about how we can help your cannabis company grow in Massachusetts.