There are two things that all Canadian advertisers need to keep in mind when it comes to advertising cannabis on Instagram. The first is Bill C-45 - the Cannabis Act - and the second is Instagram’s policies.
Instagram’s Terms and Conditions for posting about cannabis aren’t very clear. Instagram suggests that you cannot create posts promoting illegal drug use, but cannabis is legal in Canada so we should be in the clear, right? Wrong. While cannabis is legal in Canada, it’s only legal to advertise to consumers over the age of 18 or 19 years old, depending on the province. However, Instagram is open to anyone that is over the age of 14.
Further along in the Instagram T’s and C’s, we see that Instagram also has the right to take down any content that violates community guidelines. Essentially, Instagram has the right to take down your posts or delete your account at any time based on their ever-changing community guidelines.
Okay, so can you do paid ads on Instagram for cannabis and target Instagram users that are 19+? No, at this time Instagram blocks paid ads for cannabis or that link to a site that mentions cannabis, but you can build your brand organically. Posts, stories, interacting with other Instagram users - these are all things that are fine to do on Instagram. The only thing is, make sure you have a backup plan.
So what are the workarounds?
- Make sure your Instagram content is ‘G-rated’. As long as you aren’t posting videos of cannabis consumption, you SHOULD be fine. No promises. Unfortunately, this also means users might have a tough time figuring out just what your brand is and what you do.
- Create a backup Instagram account. Many cannabis influencers, such as Natalia Chiles (@hiighvibes), maintain more than one Instagram account because they have had their accounts shut down before.
- Post your G-rated content to Instagram, but create your main content on a cannabis-friendly social media site, like JADEO.co, instead. This will allow you to create your content in a safe space, where it won’t be removed.
- Skip the hassle of Instagram shutdowns all together and become a thought leader on JADEO. JADEO.co is the best alternative to Instagram for cannabis businesses. You’ll be able to post photos, write articles, and share relevant news stories, all while building a following in a cannabis-positive space.