Advertising pot: No cute donkey logos, no free mini-doobies

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Washington pot shops haven’t really needed to advertise yet. There’s so little recreational marijuana to go around that stores are struggling just to keep product in stock.

Crockpot18_7542038_ver1.0_640_480Eventually though, there will be enough supply, and enough stores open, that pot shop owners will need to promote themselves to stand out in the crowd. There’s been some confusion around the rules that dictate pot advertising, so the Liquor Control Board posted a handy FAQ yesterday to clear the air.

The FAQ covers all the basics, including websites, signage and promotions. Many restrictions on pot advertising are aimed at protecting children and upholding the 1,000-foot buffer around schools, parks and other community centers. Here are a few key points:

  • Advertising in print media (like newspapers!) is OK. Though printed publications are sometimes distributed to schools, but the LCB doesn’t intend to enforce the 1,000-foot buffer for newspaper advertising. Advertising on radio and TV stations is permitted but could conflict with federal regulation.
  • Retailers can’t sell marijuana for less than cost and they can’t give away free samples.
  • Retailers can advertise with decals on a vehicle or delivery truck, but that vehicle cannot enter any of the 1,000-foot buffer areas, which would make getting around town pretty tricky.

Questions for the FAQ were drawn from queries submitted by real I-502 entrepreneurs, and some clearly have big plans:

baby-donkey-with-mommyQ: I assume that I may choose a logo that is not directly related to marijuana, such as a donkey?

A: Yes, but be careful that the logo does not appeal to children.

(Note: Donkeys are adorable. What donkey won’t appeal to children?)

Q: I want to provide free “mini doobies” to concert goers. However, the MJ I’m giving is not mine. It is medical marijuana that is of the same strain as those I will sell in my recreational retail store. I’ve announced this on my I-502-licensed Facebook page and website. Is this ok?

A: Not ok. As a licensed business, you may not give away marijuana. You may only sell taxed and tested marijuana that you purchased from a processor.

Q: May you use wording implying just how fine your brand might be. Like, “County Gold, Washington’s Best,” or jingles?

A: Yes.

You can read the full FAQ here.

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