Tumblr just became the first major social media company to allow companies to advertise legal cannabis or hemp-based CBD products on its platform.
The microblogging site recently updated its advertising policies to allow ads for specific products, including hemp-derived CBD, legal adult-use weed products, and “cannabis-adjacent products” like pipes or rolling papers. Any business wishing to advertise legal weed or CBD on Tumblr must comply with the company's strict cannabis ad guidelines, however.
Any ad for a legal adult-use or cannabis-adjacent product or brand must be approved in advance by Tumblr's direct-sales team and specifically targeted to adults aged 21 and over. The new ad guidelines caution that “regardless of age-targeting, cannabis ads must not be designed, or appear to be designed, to appeal to under-age purchasers. Ads for cannabis must include all legally required notices.”
And even though it is legal to sell adult-use weed in over a dozen states, Tumblr will only accept ads for companies based in California and Colorado. “Cannabis advertisements are entirely prohibited from running in any other location in the world right now. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ,” the company explains. “Not to be…blunt, but while we don’t make the rules, we sure do follow them, and we’d really appreciate you doing the same.”
Ads for adult-use weed products or brands must be strictly geo-targeted to appear only to adults living in California or Colorado, but the company offers no official explanation as to why they are limiting ads to those two states. When asked to explain their reasoning, a company spokesperson told Ganjapreneur that they had specifically chosen these two states as a test, and may expand to other adult-use states in the future.
Cannabis advertisements must also comply with a number of other restrictions. The new guidelines prohibit companies from advertising giveaways or free products, or from advertising pot in conjunction with tobacco or alcohol. Companies are not allowed to state that their products have any therapeutic or health benefits, and cannot include misleading claims. Ads that promote underage pot use, unsafe pot use (like driving under the influence), or that depict people that are obviously stoned are also off the table.
Tumblr will also now allow companies to advertise hemp-based CBD products on their site, with far fewer restrictions than legal weed products. Companies are not allowed to advertise CBD-infused food, most likely due to the fact that the FDA still hasn't gotten around to regulating these products. The guidelines also bar companies from claiming that CBD is a dietary supplement or that it can “prevent, diagnose, treat or cure serious diseases.”
Although Tumblr is finally stepping into the 21st Century, most other social media platforms continue to ban all legal adult-use and medical marijuana advertisements. Instagram and its parent company Facebook continue to prohibit ads for legal cannabis products, and regularly delete or “shadow ban” pages for legal cannabis companies, even in Canada where pot is federally legal.
Facebook also continues to prohibit ads and pages for most CBD products and companies, even after the federal government legalized CBD and all other hemp-derived products. The company eventually got sued over this nonsensical policy, and in 2019, retracted its CBD ad ban – but only for infused topicals. For some bizarre reason, the company continues to ban ads for CBD oils, tinctures, edibles, or any other product that can be ingested.