The Ohio Board of Pharmacy, one of the regulatory overseers of Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP), have published a newly updated FAQ outlining the advertising and marketing regulations that Ohio’s MMCP licensees must abide by. Licensees include dispensaries, processors, cultivators, and recommending physicians. You can download a PDF of the updated FAQS here.
The cannabis retailer in British Columbia pictured above could be in violation of at least three of Ohio’s MMCP advertising rules if it were located in the Buckeye State, including prohibitions against use of marijuana leaves in logos, portable signage and an illuminated sign that also features a marijuana leaf design. (Photo credit: GoToVan on Flickr).
The Ohio Rule defines “advertisements” as “any written or verbal statement, illustration, or depiction created to induce sales through a combination of letters, pictures, objects, lighting effects, illustrations, or other similar means.” In addition to brochures, promotional material and other marketing materials, the regulators have also deemed logos, signs, names, social media posts, videos, and even webinars and bumper stickers as subject to regulation and prior approval.
The point of the regulation, as described in the Rule, is to prevent licensees from targeting minors or recreational cannabis users. As in previous versions, the Board of Pharmacy has implemented regulations that may, ironically, make Ohio’s legal and regulated marijuana retailers, and the THC-containing products they sell, less visible than the illegal “street” versions.
- No lighted signage at dispensaries (neon is expressly forbidden)
- No portable signage (and even bumper stickers are considered “portable signage”)
- No use of recognizable marijuana leaves as a design motif on product packaging
- No marijuana words or images on the exit bags with which patients leave the dispensary
- No direct engagement between licensees and social media users
The Board of Pharmacy collects a fee of $100.00 (with a $2.00 processing fee per submission) every time a licensee submits regulated advertising to the Board for approval.