FEB 05, 2024 5:39 AM PST

Study Shows Significant Non-Compliance with Illinois Cannabis Advertising Regulations

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research examined Illinois recreational cannabis dispensary compliance with social media advertising regulations. States with legal medical or recreational cannabis have strict advertising protocols to avoid ad campaigns that may appeal to youth, make false health claims, or target low-income and minority communities. 

The researchers compiled primary data from recreational dispensary Facebook and Twitter business pages in 2020 (the first year of recreational cannabis sales). The team developed a codebook for categorizing posts based on the advertising regulations outlined in the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. The researchers classified advertising violations into three categories (ads that may be appealing to youth (under 21 years old), ads that make health claims, and other advertising violations to analyze the data cross-sectionally and longitudinally. The team noted differences in compliance influenced by dispensary and neighborhood characteristics.

The study revealed significant non-compliance throughout the entire study period. Roughly one-third of posts had at least one violation. About one in ten posts met the criteria for appealing to youth or contained questionable health claims. 

The criteria for appealing to youth included ads that feature celebrities or strain names that may be appealing to youth. Many ads also had edibles resembling lollipops, cookies, and other treats that appeal to children.   

The majority of posts with health claims (58%) featured statements about cannabis's effectiveness for health conditions that were not Illinois-approved qualifying medical conditions. The researchers noted no differences in compliance by neighborhood and dispensary characteristics.

The study highlights the crucial need for systematic monitoring and enforcement of advertising compliance. The Illinois cannabis market has significantly expanded since the state legalized both recreational and medical cannabis. Like many other states with legal cannabis, Illinois has rigid advertising content and medium restrictions

Sources: Journal of Cannabis Research, The Network of Public Health Law


About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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