Twitter's Major Policy Shift on Cannabis

Stephen Andrews
18 Feb 2023

Twitter steps forward with significant policy changes on Cannabis. From now on, the social media giant will permit "approved" and legal cannabis operators to use ads in the U.S. and Canada for certain regulated cannabis products. Until now, only CBD topical brands were allowed to advertise on Twitter. Moving forward, Twitter enables the promotion of regulated THC and CBD-containing cannabis products, gadgets, services, and more.

Twitter has posted the policy updates on its website under the section "Drugs and drug paraphernalia." The policy applies to Twitter's paid advertising products. 

The social media platform will allow advertisers to boost content that is informational or which communicates a brand preference, for certain types of goods and services only. The list includes CBD, THC and other cannabinoid products as well as cannabis-related events, delivery services, etc. 

Those companies based in the U.S. must be licensed by the appropriate authorities and will also need to go through an approval process with Twitter. Canadian advertisers need a license from Health Canada and again pre-authorization from Twitter. 

Overall, advertisers can only show their ads in the jurisdictions in which they are licensed to operate and conduct services. 

Ads that promote or offer the sale of Cannabis, including CBD products, are not allowed in the U.S. Still, there are some exceptions, like ads for topical, non-ingestible, hemp-derived CBD topicals that contain less than 0.3% THC. 

There are a lot of other restrictions and limits that advertisers need to respect anyway. For example, any advertisement for Cannabis in the U.S. must not appeal to minors, and if sales are in question, the age must be verified. Advertisers cannot use celebrities or images/icons appealing to minors. Neither are they allowed to make claims of efficacy and health benefits. Ads must not show a depiction of cannabis product use nor depict people using cannabis or under the influence, and so forth. 

The news was received with a warm welcome among cannabis industry executives. 
"Kudos to @twitter for being the first major social network to welcome Cannabis advertisement," tweeted Rosie Mattio, CEO of Mattio Communication, a cannabis-focused marketing and communications company based in New York City. 

"This has been in the works behind the scenes for a while. Cannabis is a leading topic on @Twitter and should be a big channel for #cannabis advertising, depending on the details of the program. #progress," reads another tweet from Patrick Rea, the managing director at San-Franscisco-based venture capital firm Poseidon Garden Ventures. 

This unexpected policy change comes after billionaire Elon Musk completed his purchase of Twitter in the fall of 2022 in a deal worth $44 billion. 

In 2018, Musk smoked cannabis on Joe Rogan's podcast. It was later reported that he received an order from the U.S. government to undergo random drug testing for a year, allegedly because of his CEO position with the space company SpaceX, which conducts significant business with the feds. 

Twitter also had a partnership with the federal government, according to which users who searched for specific drug-related terms, including "marijuana," were presented with a recommendation to consider entering a drug treatment. As Musk became the new CEO of Twitter, he ended the partnership. 

Lately, there have been important developments with other tech giants too, including Google, which in January lifted a ban on hemp and CBD advertising in California, Colorado and Puerto Rico. 

Hopefully, these kinds of policy shifts in favor of cannabis promotion online will continue with a similar pace in the months to come. 

Stephen Andrews