A Guide to Understanding CBD Restrictions at Major Platforms
CBD’s popularity is growing in the US and other areas in the world. It is expected to be one of the major industries in the upcoming years. As the industry grows, the competition between different CBD-selling companies has become fiercer.
However, advertising CBD products is not like any other product. The industry faces a lot of challenges. First of all, CBD manufacturers have to stick to their local laws and follow certain regulations. In addition, they face many restrictions on major platforms such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In this article, we explain how CBD marketing faces a lot of challenges.
The CBD Industry as a Trend
The CBD industry is growing daily. This is mainly because many studies and clinical trials have shown how therapeutic cannabinoid products can be.
Studies show that CBD can help with many problems including pain management, anxiety, stress, depression, sleep problems, nicotine withdrawal, alcoholism, and even GERD. Financially speaking, the industry is expected to reach more than $20 billion by 2024-2025.
In the United States, CBD is one of the trending products. As the market grows, new rules and regulations, including advertising laws, are discussed. Each state has its laws and regulations on marketing CBD products. The FDA has made a list of rules and guidelines on CBD advertising as well.
The CBD Products Legal History
To better understand how to keep your CBD business legal, it is crucial to understand the journey of CBD products to become legal. In 2018, the Farm Bill made hemp-derived CBD products legal in the US. However, this bill hasn’t made it clear about the legality and advertising of CBD products. These regulations were left up to each state.
The Farm Bill was a great step in the CBD industry since it removed the products from the Controlled Substances Act. It made the FDA responsible for CBD plant-derived products containing less than 0.3% THC, which means that these products have become completely legal. 33 states in addition to Washington D.C. now legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes. The other 17 states have legalized the use of CBD extracts in their oil forms for the same purposes.
Therefore, CBD companies such as Wellness Garden, which are interested in selling CBD products for all kinds of customers including wholesale customers should be familiar with the details of CBD and cannabis laws in each state to be able to run their businesses legally.
Is It Legal to Market CBD?
Yes, it is legal. According to the FDA, CBD products that comply with the state’s law and of course, federal laws can be marketed. It states that CBD can be added to foods, supplements, and even pet foods. However, several restrictions should be mentioned.
- CBD companies cannot sell CBD products as dietary supplements.
- CBD products do not prevent, cure, or diagnose diseases. They may help, but they cannot replace regular medications and diagnostic measures.
- It is illegal to sell CBD foods.
- The FDA does not approve cosmetic CBD products and ingredients. Yet, CBD as an ingredient is not restricted and can be added to cosmetic products.
In conclusion, it is essential to show your customers that all statements about CBD are not supported by the FDA or proven by research papers. CBD products “may” work.
This introduction is essential to understanding the CBD advertising restrictions on major platforms. Many digital platforms prevent CBD advertising because the legality of CBD products is not clear yet.
Let’s look at the major platforms that ban or restrict CBD products.
Facebook is probably the largest social media platform on Earth and yet, it still classifies CBD as an unsafe substance. In Facebook advertising policy, point number five says: “Ads must not promote the sale or use of illicit or recreational drugs, or other unsafe substances, products or supplements, as determined by Meta in its sole discretion.” CBD products fall under this category.
Yet, in 2019, Meta decided to make the advertising policy regarding CBD products less strict. Many CBD companies can now advertise their products on Facebook but they have to make sure that “CBD” is not mentioned in the ad. This is applied to the tag, links, videos, images, and even the landing pages. If you avoided mentioning the word “CBD”, the ad may pass.
In 2021, Meta made the rules easier and easier. It allowed some “hemp-based topical products”. Still, Meta needs to change their algorithms since the ads get rejected sometimes. Besides, the CBD companies must make sure that their content is not related to the content that is marked as “unsafe” in the Facebook advertising policy.
This current situation is terrible for CBD companies. These companies have to hide their whole identities and create an acceptable image for themselves to be accepted on Facebook including different landing pages, links, content, etc. If a CBD companies want to have a presence on Facebook, they have to create two different brands with creative titles and product labels. After all this effort, Facebook users might not be able to identify the brand or realize the purpose of your ads. Some CBD companies do not even think of advertising on Facebook because they know that the users will not get the idea behind such vague ads.
Compared to Facebook, Amazon’s official advertising policy is clearer. It says loud and clear that: “Listings for products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are prohibited, including but not limited to full-spectrum hemp oil, rich hemp oil, and products that have been identified as containing CBD by LegitScript.”
Yet, some CBD companies still can get around this restriction. They simply avoid putting the word “CBD” when they package and list their products and use alternative keywords.
Even when Amazon manages to find these sellers and ban them, they rebrand themselves easily and get around the ban easily. Most of them use a dubious practice called “brand burning”. Brand burning means that they can sell the same products that were banned but with a different label. Of course, most customers find these products vague. In most cases, these deceptive ways to get access to the largest selling platform in the world do not work.
Snapchat is one of the favorite platforms for the young generations, especially Gen-Z. The platform has similar roles to Meta. However, it is less strict since it allows using the word “CBD”. It is also the first social media platform to allow the use of CBD in advertising.
On the other hand, Snapchat has some strict rules regarding advertising CBD products.
- Snapchat does not allow showing ingestible CBD products (gummies).
- The ad must not feature any reputable media outlets.
- It does not allow smiling people in CBD ads.
- The ad must not contain any testimonials or customer reviews.
- The ad cannot say what the product does or how it works.
So, in a nutshell, Snapchat customers will not know exactly what the product is or how to pick up the right products. They will not be able to differentiate between high-quality, well-reviewed products and other questionable products.
Moreover, CBD companies will have to spend more time, money, and effort on creating new ads constantly until one or more of these ads meets the requirements. It is an exhausting process and may take months until a company figures out how to market its CBD products there.
Twitter prevents CBD marketers from running CBD ads on it because it does not allow the marketing of herbal drugs or illicit substances. If the algorithm discovered that you use Twitter to sell these types of products, the account might get restricted.
However, some marketers find ways to use Twitter as part of CBD marketing strategies. First of all, Twitter’s advertising policy is only applied to products advertised via paid advertising, which means that you can use Twitter effectively to increase the awareness of your brand.
For example, you can reap the benefits of using Twitter by posting useful information about CBD products and linking them to your website. Besides, you can publish links to your informative posts and tweets to get the attention of the cannabis community. Over time with frequent posting and engagement, you will build a reputable brand among smart users.
Twitter’s advertising policy states clearly:
“We permitted approved CBD topical advertisers to target the United States, subject to the following restrictions:
- Advertisers must be licensed by the appropriate authorities and pre-authorized by Twitter.
- Advertisers may only promote non-ingestible, legally derived CBD topical products.
- Advertisers may only target jurisdictions in which they are licensed to promote these products or services online.
- Advertisers may not target Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Virginia.
- Advertisers are responsible for complying with all laws and regulations.
- Advertisers may not target customers under the age of 21.
- Contact Twitter if you are interested in this option.”
Just a Piece of Advice: when you use Twitter, try your best to stay away from making any health claims. Always use words like “may” and “potential benefits” to avoid FDA enforcement and account restrictions.
Instagram is part of the “Meta” social platforms. However, its policy regarding the advertising of CBD products is kind of different from Facebook and more similar to Twitter.
Instagram even allows users to market CBD more freely than Twitter. CBD companies do not get restricted on Instagram as often as on Twitter. In other words, Instagram algorithms are not smart enough as Twitter and Facebook algorithms. Therefore, it does not keep an eye on CBD marketing and products like other platforms.
Yet, you have to be very careful when you use Instagram as part of your CBD marketing strategy since it can cost you your business and even your personal account. The app could shut down your account permanently if you tried to sell CBD products.
You still can use Instagram as part of your marketing strategy by focusing on educating your audience and linking to your website blog posts. By constantly sharing content about CBD and cannabis products, you will be part of the community and find your targeted audience.
Of course, Instagram depends mainly on images. Beat your competitors in this area by using attractive images that reflect your brand. The more relevant and exciting the posts and images are, the better the CBD marketing campaign will be and you will notice that in the numbers of visitors and new customers. Besides, you can use Instagram to create incredible videos.
Instagram has an amazing feature for businesses. It allows them to post direct web links in the bio section and via “Stories”. You can use these features to measure how successful your CBD marketing campaign is.
Google AdWords allows CBD companies to advertise their products. However, you will have to find a way to advertise without violating Google’s ad policy.
Most CBD marketers try to increase their customers and drive more users into their CBD product pages by setting up standard search ads.
However, if Google discovered that you use their pages to drive content to your sales pages, your ads will be banned immediately. In less than 2 weeks, your CBD campaign will be shut down forever. Your account may be suspended permanently. Besides, your website or billing information may be flagged by Google AdWords, which will prevent you from using a new account to promote your products.
So, in a nutshell, Google AdWords’ policy does not the promotion of CBD products. All you can do is use Google to enhance your presence among other competitors. Other than that, there is not much to do.
The Bottom Line
If you are a CBD marketer or business owner, you are probably aware of the previous marketing challenges. Since the industry is growing rapidly, the regulations and policies may be less strict in the upcoming years. You still can lead a successful CBD marketing campaign. Just keep an eye on the new regulations and policies since the rules and laws are changing constantly and find the safest ways to use all the major platforms to promote your business without putting it in danger.
All the information in this post is correct at the time of publishing the article. Yet, certain changes may be applied in the future to the laws, regulations, and policies. Pay attention to the cannabis news and try to create a strong presence in the online cannabis business.