Advertising Marijuana?

Everyone remembers having to take health class at some point in their education. It seemed like every health class that I took included at least a few weeks of drug and alcohol education. Often, that meant warnings about the dangers of everything from methamphetamine to prescription drugs with an assortment of personal testimonies, medical proof, and scare tactics. Some non-profits even put anti-drug advertisements on television. Take for example the Above the Influence ad below, in which a teenaged girl’s dog asks her to stop smoking pot.

(“Anti Weed Commercial”)

            With the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington a debate has risen as to whether or not it is ethical to advertise marijuana. The photo pictured below was emailed from a medical marijuana dispensary in Rhode Island advertising Christmas promotions and discounts.


(Malinowski, 2014)

           However, recently the Attorney General, Peter F Kilmartin, released a statement explaining  his stance strongly against advertising medical marijuana: “Can you imagine the public outcry if the local pharmacy started offering [half] off Oxycontin or medicinal drugs?” and explained that, “Compassion centers should be held to the same standard and should be prohibited from offering discounts or sales on medicinal marijuana” (Malinowski, 2014). I think that I generally agree with the Attorney General on advertising medical marijuana. However, I understand that the company was also probably trying to make their product more affordable for its customers that can legally buy it.

But what about the advertising of recreational marijuana in the states where it is legal. Understandably, there are restrictions on advertising tobacco products due to their danger to both the user’s health and to the health of those around them, with secondhand smoke. However, there seem to be fewer restrictions on the advertising on alcohol. The questionis, how will the advertising of marijuana be regulated, if at all? Denver, Colorado actually banned the outdoor advertisement of medical marijuana back 2012 (Wyatt, 2012).

According to CBS News’ website, ad agencies have begun preparing for advertising marijuana when/if it becomes legal. Although it seems that campaigns targeting “stoners” are already out there, like Taco Bell’s “Fourth Meal” campaign, which targeted young people with “the munchies”. Clearly, ad agencies will have to overcome obstacles like stereotypes and anti marijuana campaigns if they want to reach out to demographic groups outside of “stoners” (Kennedy, 2014). All in all, it will be interesting to how just how marijuana will be advertised in the future.

Works Cited

Anti weed commercial. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Kennedy, B. (2014). Ad agencies prepare for the legal marijuana market. Retrieved from

Malinowski, W. (2014, February 5). Medical marijuana advertising stops after r.i.

attorney general questions practice. Retrieved from



Wyatt, K. (2012). Medical marijuana ads under attack in denver. Retrieved from

9 thoughts on “Advertising Marijuana?

  1. Yeah, it’s weird to think about how they’re going to control or not control advertisement for weed. Especially since I think so many people are just getting used to it being legal or still fighting for it to be legal in their states that a lot of people haven’t even thought about the issue of advertising. Which no doubt, is going to be, if not already an issue.


  2. Definitely interesting to see how marijuana will be advertised in the future. I do believe that I don’t think the product itself should be advertised, but maybe the different companies that sell it could advertise themselves. I think the product sells by itself, because there is such high demand already, so I don’t think it’s completely necessary to advertise it. But in terms of targetting “stoners” and whatever comes with smoking makes complete sense, such as Taco Bell and munchies just as you mentioned above.


  3. I find it comical that there would even be a need to advertise marijuana. It’s so sought after that it’s its own advertisement. It’s also interesting that they want to advertise by putting the term “medical” in front as if it’s this completely different beast.

    It will be interesting to see where this goes and if the ads get placed in markets where it’s illegal, but advertising for the states that it’s legal in. That’s probably a whole new can of worms in and of itself.


  4. Pingback: What Type of Stoner Are You? - Zombie Killing Stoners

  5. I think everyone is making a good point about it not being necessary to advertise marijuana. But I don’t really think that’s the issue. I mean it is a business decision, even if they do not need to make ads for marijuana itself, to make ads for a certain dispensary. In a business sense advertising your dispensary would be necessary because with high demand comes high competition, and good ads usually focus on the product. I think there should definitely be restrictions, but outlawing it all together seems unwise.


  6. This is what caught my attention this week as well. I feel like the idea that weed doesn’t need to be advertised comes from a place of being a college kid. College kids are going to buy weed, period. That’s not who these dispensaries are targeting though, they’re aiming for a public they haven’t tapped yet. The type of public that is willing to spend way more money on “quality” weed and create a whole new culture around it. Obviously advertising to those who already smoke is pointless but I think as advertisers we need to remember we want to convince people to buy something they wouldn’t before.


  7. I agree that college kids and others who already smoke marijuana do not need advertisement and will find it themselves, but I think this is also true for current nonsmokers. Nonsmokers who see these ads will not want to immediately go buy marijuana but will most likely dismiss it because, even though theres a great deal, they do not smoke and do not want to start.


  8. These ads are so dumb. Teens and college kids end up posting them online to make fun of them, which makes them completely useless. Most people just laugh at these and don’t take them seriously. Ads like these are not the best way to get people’s attention, so the companies that make these need to find a better way to get to their audience.


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