To many of us, it doesn’t seem a long time since cannabis was an illegal substance in every state, with possession of even a small amount carrying a substantial prison sentence. Now, the sale of marijuana for medical or even recreational use is big business in many states. Cannabis marketing and sales are now a booming market. But how did we get here so quickly? Is this causing substance use problems across the nation?
Cannabis Legalization and Marketing
The history of cannabis legalization begins in California in 1996, with the passing of Proposition 215, allowing the use of medical marijuana for citizens of the Golden State. The law allowed physicians to recommend the use of the drug without fear of prosecution and soon led to a growing market of legal cannabis sales. Alaska, Oregon, Nevada and Washington followed suit in 1998, beginning a wave of legalization across North America. As of 2022, medical use of the drug is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia.
With the growing wave of legislation on the medical use of cannabis, legalization for recreational use was sure to follow. In 2012, Colorado became the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults. The market there grew rapidly, from $14 million per month in 2014 to $127 million in 2021. Several other states soon joined Colorado, including California in 2016. California soon became the biggest cannabis market in the United States, with sales rising from $105 million in January 2018 to $432 million in July 2022.
Marketing cannabis in the United States remains tricky due to the wide variation in regulations, which we’ll cover a bit later in this post. This means business owners have to be creative. In states where recreational sales are legal, billboards direct people to shops, and businesses rely on building communities of customers through word of mouth.
The Big Money Behind Cannabis
The main reason the cannabis market expanded so rapidly is that business owners already knew there was a huge market before a single state changed its legal status. Cannabis use and weed culture have permeated American culture for decades, going back to the Cheech and Chong movies of the late 70s. It’s impossible to know the exact size of the illicit market in cannabis prior to legalization, but it’s sensible to assume it was far in excess of the $33 billion in sales expected across the United States in 2022.
So far, most of the money in marijuana goes to smaller businesses active in a single state. Larger companies are developing that combine growing, processing, distribution and sales. However, they’re limited by the different laws in each state and the fact that possession of the drug remains a federal offense.
What Are the Regulations Governing the Advertising and Marketing of Marijuana?
Each state has its own regulations, and these can even vary between counties in some states. In addition, due to the rapid roll-out of legislation, some states have no legislation at all, leading to a legal vacuum in which cases have to be settled by legal precedent. In general, where laws do exist, they follow the patterns of advertising alcohol and tobacco.
A further complication to the process is the federal laws on cannabis. For example, you can’t send mass mailings advertising the drug through U.S. mail. The FCC also places limits on how marijuana can be advertised, insisting there must be proof that the audience for an ad — whether on TV, radio, podcast or any other form of media — must be composed of at least 85% of adults over 21.
Is Cannabis Being Over-Marketed?
Due to the legal issues noted above, the answer to this is almost certainly no. Cannabis is certainly marketed less than prescription drugs, as advertisements for the latter appear constantly on TV. Even alcohol and tobacco, with the many restrictions placed on their advertisement, are marketed far more than marijuana.
However, this may change in the future due to continuing pressure for the federal laws governing cannabis to be changed. The latest effort in this direction passed in the House in April 2022 but ultimately failed to pass the Senate. Depending on the results of the midterms in November, we may see some changes in 2023.
Is Your Marijuana Use a Problem?
With the majority of adults in the United States now able to access recreational cannabis, there have been increased concerns over misuse and addiction. Although most people now realize the fears of the “reefer madness” campaigns of the 1930s were gross exaggerations, some people do have issues with their level of marijuana use.
If you only use the drug occasionally and can regulate your usage easily, you probably shouldn’t worry. However, there are a few signs you or someone close to you might be crossing the line into misuse and addiction. These include:
- Regular, unexplained absences from work or school
- A decline in work/school performance
- Loss of interest in hobbies and pastimes
- Lying or secrecy about activities or whereabouts
- Continued use even after problems emerge
- Use when driving or operating machinery, causing danger to yourself and others
- Inability to reduce or stop use
- Withdrawal from friends and family
Those engaging in problem use may also have bloodshot eyes, dry mouth and increased appetite and display symptoms of paranoia and agitation. Although most people can use cannabis without it becoming a problem, the CDC has published statistics stating that around 3 in 10 can develop a misuse disorder, with 1 in 10 becoming addicted.
Help Is Available
At FHE Health, we have a vast depth of experience treating those recovering from substance abuse and addiction. Although it can be difficult to imagine moving on from these problems when you or a loved one is dealing with it, we can bring you hope. Our approach goes beyond the 12-step program, offering inpatient and outpatient programs covering medical detox, rehabilitation and alumni care to keep our patients clean after their initial treatment.
For more information on our comprehensive addiction treatment programs, contact us online or call one of our experts at 888-918-2710 today.