New Advertising FAQs Released by Cannabis Control Commission Bring Clarity for Licensees
Marketing, design, and media professionals can click "print" or "send" with more confidence, thanks to the new advertising guidance released in the form of FAQs by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission last week.
Importantly, the very first FAQ answers the main question shared by licensees and applicants as it relates to advertising and branded items: How does the Commission define advertising, and importantly, what are the different requirements and restrictions for a "brand name" and a "branded good?"
The Cannabis Control Commission’s (Commission) regulations define advertising as: “A form of marketing communication that employs a sponsored, non-personal message to sell or promote Marijuana Establishment or Medical Marijuana Treatment Center’s (ME or MTC) Brand Name, Branded Good, service, or idea.”
“Brand Name” is a brand name (alone or in conjunction with any other word), registered trademark, logo, symbol, motto, selling message, recognizable pattern of colors, or any other identifiable marker associated with an ME or MTC. A “Branded Good” is merchandise offered for sale by an ME or MTC that is identifiable by the ME or MTC Brand Name on the item. A Branded Good does not include Marijuana, Marijuana Products, or Marijuana Accessories; and may be an apparel item, a water bottle, or other similar non-edible merchandise."
One of the most welcome recent changes confirmed in the Commission's new FAQ guidance is a dispensary's ability to print their brand name(s) on all sorts of marketing swag, including lighters, t-shirts, rolling trays, bags, and jars, On the other hand, the FAQs also make clear that "marijuana accessories" such as pipes, bongs, vaporizers and "any item used to introduce marijuana to the human body" cannot be emblazoned with a dispensary's logo, regardless of whether that dispensary is an adult-use dispensary or "Marijuana Establishment") or a medical marijuana treatment center (MTC).
The FAQs go into detail to clarify burning questions such as:
What kind of messages are prohibited on Branded Goods like t-shirts?
Can a Branded Good include the name of a business and/or business logo?
Can licensees provide branded apparel containing their business name and/or logo to employees?
Can standalone Marijuana Product Manufacturers, Microbusinesses, Craft Marijuana Cooperatives, or Cultivators sell Branded Goods?
The FAQs also shine light on how licensees are indeed allowed to use proceeds from the sale of Branded Goods to support a charity or non-profit as part of their Positive Impact Plans. If you ask me, that is a fantastic opportunity for product developers and professionals supporting a licensee's corporate social responsibility and compliance work!
Click here to see the full list of advertising-related FAQs and guidance from the Cannabis Control Commission, And please don't hesitate to reach out for help getting started or getting compliant with my team of marketing and compliance professionals!