Medicinal use of marijuana has its origins in ancient medical practice and has been prescribed to patients for treatment including for muscle sclerosis, cancer-related pain, and menstrual cramps.1 In the United States, marijuana maintains its status as a Schedule 1 drug under federal law (i.e. a drug that has no medicinal value and high potency for abuse), while more than 20 states in the US have recognized its role in medicine and have medical marijuana laws in place.
Advertising regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries and manufacturers vary widely across the states. In this theme, you will find advertisements marketing marijuana for a broad range of off-label symptoms and conditions. Infact, advertisements by some marijuana retailers often brand cannabis as a “cure-all” substance. For example, an advertisement titled “Operation Cannabis” distributed by WeedMemes.com displays a cartoon human anatomy indicating marijuana as a “neuroprotective” substance, an “antioxidant,” and one that not only reverses carcinogenic effects and “kills cancer,” but also “stimulates bone growth.”
Many advertisements picture a model dressed in a doctor’s white coat next to text that reads: “Marijuana Doctor,” or “Schedule an Appointment” (e.g.1-800MedicanMarijuana.com). The alleged medical professionals in these advertisements often are featured holding marijuana, marijuana paraphernalia, or posing in a stance as if prescribing cannabis. These promotional materials also more often than not utilize dark and light shades of green to attract cannabis-seeking consumers, as well as display the cannabis universal symbol. These ads are being promoted on billboards, print and storefront ads, and digital sites. As the recreational and medical marijuana market continues to grow, the need of the hour is a federal policy that addresses among other things advertising regulations.
1. MD, W. A. (2016). Marijuana: Health effects of recreational and medical use. Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved June 6, 2017, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-health-effects-of-marijuana-from-recreational-and-medical-use-2016081910180
2. McGreevy, P. (2016). California initiative draws fire for opening the door to TV ads that promote pot smoking. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 6, 2017, from http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-pot-ads-20160731-snap-story.html