Advertising Cannabis

All advertising requires careful consideration regarding how to best reach your target audience. Cannabis has further layers because, among all the factors, you must consider the legal context of where you are, differences in consumption habits, and differing attitudes and preferences towards weed.

As global attitudes towards cannabis become increasingly positive, legislation is following suit. Despite a sometimes-tricky legal landscape, the growing recognition of cannabis’ therapeutic and medicinal benefits lends to a projected global compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.03% from 2023-2030. Not only do more people get to enjoy the plant, but the developing economy is generating valuable and actionable data to use when advertising cannabis.

Segmenting Your Audience

Creating Impactful and Influential Ads

Cannabis and eCommerce – The Importance of Good User Experience

Note on Compliance for Advertising Cannabis

TrafficJunky Makes Advertising Cannabis Easy

As the weed economy develops around the world, picking your geo target requires more attention to detail that other niches. As usual, consider the demographics that are likely to be interested in your products. It’s counterproductive, and a waste of your budget, to promote a product to a market that doesn’t want or need it. More importantly, you must think about the regional laws around cannabis and the reality of how your audience would obtain your products.

Canadian Market

Oh Canada, The Great White North. Even before its federal legalization, Canadians indulged in the leafy green. Since 2018, the social acceptability of all cannabis consumption methods has gone up. In 2023, Canada took second place for global consumption, with 26% reporting use. The generally positive and relaxed view towards weed, as well as government and commercial infrastructure’s facilitation of the market, means Canada can be a profitable opportunity for advertisers.

In this section

National Legalization Day

Set the scene: it’s National Legalization Day, October 17, 2018. Excitement, and a skunky smell, is in the air as cannabis becomes federally legal. The Canucks, with bright, blood-shot eyes and cotton mouths, seemed to be craving something else. On Pornhub, Cannabis related searches were up +206% than average. The terms searched the most included “weed”, “smoking weed”, and “420”. The way Canada embraced legal weed, the craving showing up in their most private moments of self-care, is a testament of Canada’s market permeability.

Data sourced from the Canadian Cannabis Survey 2023.

Per 12 Month Cannabis Source for non-medical purposes, by sex and age group, 2018-2023.

12 Month Cannabis Use for Non-medical Purposes, by Reported Sexuality, 2018-2022

When advertising cannabis to the Canadian market, you must be well versed in the differing provincial laws to discern whether your ads would lead to the conversions you are looking for. For example, in Quebec, you can only legally get weed at the government run SQDC stores. In Ontario and other provinces, shoppers can go to their dispensary of choice. Use TrafficJunky’s Geotargeting features, to focus on accessible markets while excluding the regions you don’t see potential in.

The three most commonly used product types in 2023:

Followed by:

Cannabis Products Used Among those who had used cannabis in the past 12 months, by reason for use, 2023.

Usual source of cannabis among people who used cannabis in the past 12 months, by sex and age group, 2023.

Average Amount Spent on Cannabis Per Month

Those who had reported using cannabis in the past 12 months reported a typical spend of approximately $63. On average, females spend $58/month while males spend $68/month.

Average price per unit of purchases, by product type

Data from participant responses indicated that consumers spent the most on cannabis cartridges or vape pens ($38). The average price per unit of dried flower or leaf was $8.14, and $5.35 for edible cannabis.

The gradual, nationwide legalization of cannabis is increasing access to product while the American psyche is growing to embrace weed. Take your stake in an audience where 70% of people support legal weed, and an industry expected to reach almost $40 billion in 2024.

Progress in legislation that could benefit the American cannabis market.

  • August 29, 2024- A letter calling for cannabis to be rescheduled as a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances act was leaked to Bloomberg.
  • January 4, 2024 – The DEA confirms it is reviewing the cannabis rescheduling recommendation.
  • January 12, 2024 – The US government releases documents related to its ongoing review of marijuana’s status under federal law. These documents confirm, for the first time, that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) place cannabis in Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)

Demographics of American Cannabis Users

Half of Americans have tried marijuana, while 17% say they “smoke marijuana”.

37% of women over 21 consume cannabis, reporting primarily therapeutic reasons.

Most Americans live in a state that has legalized cannabis, with 79% living in a county with a least one dispensary

  • 150,000 dispensaries in the US.
  • 99.5% of Californians have a dispensary in their county.
  • Oklahoma has the most dispensaries per capita, with 36 for every 100,000 residents.

Millennials and Gen Z dominate the market

  • Millennials is the largest consumer demographic, capturing 26.2% of every dollar spent on weed.
  • Gen Z is the fastest growing demographic, with their share of the total cannabis sales growing 11.3%.

Percent of Total Sales by Age Group


Cannabis Product Preferences

When creating your ads, feature products your audience love and consume.

Pre-rolls are the third largest product category in the US after flower and pens. Comparing the beginning of 2023 to 2022, pre-roll sales increased 12.4%. Pre-rolls also shine in dispensaries, with total sales up 32% from January 2022.

Millennials and Gen Z prefer cannabis vape pens. Making up 70.8% of all US cannabis sales.

In very recent news, Germany has legalized weed for personal use. This means adults can legally grow and consume limited amounts and join members’ clubs.

What this means, at a glance:

  • Starting July 1, 2024, German residents 18+ will be able to join “cannabis clubs”
  • Individuals will be able to buy a maximum of 25g/day, or 50/month.
  • Legislation calls for amnesty under which sentences for cannabis-related offences that will no longer be illegal are to be reviewed and in many cases reversed.

Why is audience segmentation important? Depending upon the product or service you’re selling, think about the kinds of people who would be interested in them. Make customer personas and target them efficiently with our optimization tools.

  • Demographics: What is your target customer segment? Categorize and target them by – age, gender, geolocations, or even income levels.
  • Defining your target audience lets you tailor your messaging and sales funnel to meet their specific needs, build a connection with your customers, and increase your conversions. For instance, after implementing market segmentation, Contributors to Convince&Convert saw an 89% increase in conversions on their e-commerce website. 
  • Optimize your budget and get your brand in front of the right people at the right times. Find what works best for you and plan your campaigns accordingly.

When advertising cannabis, think about how your ads can answer the questions brought up by customer’s needs and preferences.

Why is it so important to tailor your campaigns to specific promotions or seasonal themes? Consult our Black Friday Best Practices to learn how customized campaigns generates urgency and an excitement to buy. In the short term, it allows you to leverage predictable changes in user behavior, create brand awareness, and be competitive. In the long term, you’re increasing your customer loyalty with positive shopping experiences that can’t be passed up.

Up your cannabis advertising efforts to capture the 21% of Dry January participants who replace alcohol with cannabis or CBD. Dry January is a trend where people don’t drink alcohol for the month. Use the scheduling feature to focus your campaign efforts to this time and convert the monthly increase in cannabis use.

Of those who made the swap, 34% of consumers were aged 21-24 and 24% were aged 25-34.

Percentage of Alcohol-Substitutes Used by Product and Age Group

Clearly display any official accreditations, certifications, and/or government licenses and permits to appeal to the 70% of users who prefer legal sources, online or in store.

Product educational blogs and resources to establish your brand as an authority among your competitors. Weed can be intimidating for first time users. Make your products the easy choice with how-to guides on different methods of consumption, harm reduction tips, and more. For your more established enthusiasts, go in depth into your products to maintain interest and excitement.

Small cannabis businesses can thrive by investing your advertising budget into the local community. 15% of users reported convenience being a factor when sourcing, and 60% of respondents prefer small business, local dispensaries. If you run a dispensary, consider using the Income and Population targeting feature to attract your audience to your business.

Generating trust and brand loyalty is crucial. Salesforce’s 6th Edition of the State of the Connected Customer found that 72% switched for better deals and 5% switched due to product quality. Attract new customers by offering first-time discounts, and they’ll become loyal customers thanks to high quality products and good customer experience.

Positive social proof is critical for your brand. Weed is oftentimes consumed in social settings, and social sources are the second most common way of sourcing after legal stores or websites. Did you know that customers who have a positive experience are likely to tell an average of 9 people, while negative experiences lend to telling an average of 16 people?

Retarget enthusiasts with enticing deals and unique product offerings. Seal the deal to the 42% of responders who consider price when sourcing by offering a discount or complimentary product offerings with purchase.

Optimize your website and landing pages to ensure visitors leave with a special treat. A good shopping experience includes but is not limited to a well-organized landing page, easily accessible and understandable product information, and ends with a seamless payment process.

TrafficJunky only serves cannabis ads in regions where it’s legal. Before your ads go live, the TrafficJunky compliance team will verify that your ads will be shown in compliant regions.

Over 87,000,000 impressions for cannabis creatives during April 2023.

Legal disclaimer: The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. This blog does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by TrafficJunky. TrafficJunky shall not be liable for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the information provided in this blog or from the use of our advertising services for cannabis products. Advertisers use our services at their own risk and are solely responsible for their own compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including but not limited to age restrictions related to the advertising of cannabis products and consumption or use. Advertisers are encouraged to exercise due diligence and ensure their products and advertisements comply with these laws and regulations.