The acceptance of marijuana for medicinal purposes has ballooned over the last couple of years. A state-by-state wave is sweeping across the country, with voters acknowledging the beneficial capabilities for patients in their state.
While the marketing and advertising focus have often been on obtaining the actual legalized status of marijuana for medicinal purposes, an increasing aspect of the advertising focus has been on reversing the stigma associated with the drug. There is still a widespread cloud of disapproval from many people who do not understand cannabis, viewing it still as a bad drug.
People unwilling to let go of the “stoner image” still view it as a gateway drug destining all those who use marijuana down a road of perilous addiction. Providing people with a better understanding of what marijuana actually is, how it affects people – recreational users, or medical patients – has become an area of advertising focus. While these marketing efforts are currently state specific to accomplish the most important objective of medical legalization, ads are becoming more prevalent that begin to spread a user-friendlier depiction of marijuana.
One of the hurdles that the marijuana industry faces is an increase in restrictions on advertising. Following governmental guidelines established for the alcohol industry, medical marijuana businesses are looking at legislative requirements that attempt to limit, even forbid them from targeting people under the age of 21.
Legislators in the first state that brought medical marijuana to the forefront, Colorado, have put House Bill 1363 in place to address this touchy subject. This singularly troublesome aspect of advertising could be seen as yet another roadblock put up by individuals who simply do not yet accept the medical evidence supporting its use. Overcoming the perceived evil of cannabis is a problem for marketing agencies burdened with the prospects of changing the overall perception of the medical marijuana industry.
If people do not accept the researched factual evidence that marijuana is a modern medical marvel, they are going to continue to cultivate bitterness at the idea of its legalization. The mission for marketers is to remove these barriers of ignorance that still hinder advertising efforts.
Colorado logically is one state that many legislators will look to as a model going forward, but individualized state laws addressing medical marijuana advertising are mounting. Since these legislative proposals are often trying to set unrealistically rigid advertising guidelines, the industry experts are working overtime to build marketing campaigns that help to paint a completely different portrait of cannabis.
From the first ad posted in the New York Times in April of 2016, the marijuana industry focus has been on trying to alter the pots poor public perception. It has not been an easy job. Voters have turned a blind eye to the medical benefits of marijuana, primarily because of decades of preconceived notions supported by bad news. Mental depictions of crazed pot smokers racing around the streets of their towns sent them to the polling booths to pull the lever against legalization, even for medical purposes.
The knack of building a successful promotional campaign for something that has been burdened for years by a notoriously vile public reputation, has been, and continues to be a monumental challenge for marketers. But, the tide is slowly turning in a positive direction.
Advertisers have worked hard to tie a connection between wellness and marijuana, always avoiding any of the old-school pot smoker terminology. Advertising of marijuana has leaned steadily towards painting a picture of kindness and sympathy for the human beings that are starved for the medically proven benefits of “weed”.
Those who have experience safely and responsibly using marijuana chuckle at the demonizing portrayal that the uneducated may declare, so the recent trend in medical marijuana advertising has been to deflect that age-old negative perception. Statistics speak volumes, and the whole idea that the public perception of medical marijuana is gradually being reversed, is welcome proof that this marketing idea is working.