How to Market Your Marijuana Retail Store (Legally) in Oregon

by Jayson Filingeri,

Last Updated: 11/28/2016

 

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) has gnarly guidelines in place when it comes to advertising recreational marijuana stores in Oregon. Changes to these regulations are expected as the industry grows and the state becomes more comfortable with the marijuana industry. One of the benefits to retail marijuana store advertising for store owners is that Oregon’s constitution strongly protects freedom of expression, even for commercial advertising.

Right to Refuse Advertisements

Oregon law allows radio and television networks to refuse advertisements at their own discretion. This means that networks not wanting to associate themselves with the marijuana industry don’t have to. In part, some of the refusals will occur due to the dedicated advertising funds coming in from the alcohol industry and the networks/stations not wanting to increase competition between the alcohol and marijuana industries.

The right to refuse advertising poses a challenge to new retail operations where Oregon marijuana retail store marketing is vital to the success of the business.

Prohibited Advertising Content Types

Oregon has carefully laid out its advertising guidelines to prevent deceptive information from being transmitted to the public. One of the difficult advertising regulations to follow is ensuring that the content is not meant to target an audience with members under the age of 21.  This means that cartoon characters and items like toys cannot be placed in advertisements, as it would promote marketing to minors.

Advertising is also not permitted to promote interstate marijuana transportation.

Prohibited Language of Advertising

When it comes to advertising, the language used is very important. Oregon law states that advertisements cannot include words saying that marijuana or marijuana-infused products are safe, regardless of the lab results. Language that says any government agency supports or endorses the consumption of marijuana is also prohibited.

Any wording that suggest a laboratory has “certified” a product is not allowed, and even if you have an honest organic grow; you cannot advertise your product as “certified organic”. Marijuana is still illegal federally, meaning that the FDA cannot allow products on prohibited lists from being properly certified as organic or otherwise.

Recreational marijuana store owners cannot include any language in their advertising that says recreational marijuana has any type of therapeutic benefit. Going further, advertising cannot say that you should use marijuana because of the intoxicating effects.

Required Disclosure

The OLCC requires that all marijuana advertisements, even those within a retail store, include proper disclosures.

Required on all marketing/advertising materials are:

  • Keep out of the reach of children
  • For use only by adults twenty-one years of age and older
  • Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug

These disclosures are to promote public safety and to prevent the accidental ingestion of marijuana by an unsuspecting adolescent.

Advertising Promotions, Deals and Coupons

Handbill distribution (fliers or small event cards) is prohibited in public places. This includes parking lots and publicly owned properties throughout the state. In order to promote a special, an advertiser must be able to verify without a doubt that the audience targeted is at least 21 years old. What this means is that marijuana retail store marketing cannot be done via television, radio, print or Internet advertising methods unless the content is approved and the necessary audience statistics are provided.

Location-based advertisements are also prohibited. Now, if your retail marijuana store has a mobile app, you can post your own advertisements within the app. Mobile applications must come with an opt-out feature to be permissible by Oregon law.

Signage Requirements

Along with marketing and advertising restrictions, Oregon marijuana retail store marketing materials and signage must be properly displayed. Oregon requires specific signage to be easily visible in all retail locations, including medical marijuana dispensaries.

Required signage includes:

  • No On-Site Consumption Permitted signage
  • No one under the age of 21 permitted on the premises signage
  • No minors allowed
  • Poison prevention poster
  • Pregnancy warning poster
  • Restricted access area signage
  • Educate before you recreate poster
  • Marijuana information cards must be visible

Oregon also has guidelines regarding the size of signage to be posted. Several signs, such as the poison prevention poster and pregnancy warning poster, are restricted to a 17-inch by 22-inch size only. Signs must be posted in both English and Spanish languages, per Oregon guidelines.

Closing Thoughts

If any advertising is deemed unacceptable by the OLCC, it can be refused for publication or airing in Oregon. Marijuana store advertising that is rejected must be removed within an allotted time given by the OLCC. Non-compliance of removing inappropriate Oregon marijuana retail store marketing can result in the suspension or loss of retail marijuana store licenses. It is important to stay aware of the changes to the OLCC’s regulations regarding marketing and advertising as regulations can change as issues arise. When in doubt, consult your attorney to ensure that your advertising meets compliance standards.