Weedmaps, a cannabis directory platform, doesn’t want the general public to walk away with wrong nuggets of information around marijuana. So, it plans on continuing its “Weed Facts” campaign over the next few months with new statistics and studies around legalization.
The campaign, which started in 2016 with a few billboards, each highlighting five different statistics (like, states with cannabis legalization experience a 12 percent reduction in theft), has two lofty goals: to “foster discussion” and to change the narrative of how cannabis is talked about. The company currently has 221 billboards across five states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, and Oregon as well as British Columbia and Ottawa in Canada. (The only difference being that a billboard on opioids and marijuana will not run in Canada, due to rules about how companies can advertise studies and medical effects.)
The company plans on releasing at least 10 to 15 new billboards over the next two to three months in states that have recreational cannabis legalization on the ballot.
However, for the 221 billboards already in place, Weedmaps plans on refreshing the messaging every quarter with different studies and statistics, such as the effect legalization has had on road safety, alcohol sales and opioid usage.
“The genesis of the campaign was this idea that so much of the narrative around marijuana legalization was really not based on fact and what the current state of knowledge was,” said Chris Beals, president of Weedmaps. “We thought by combining what we thought was a real need on fostering public dialogue on what the real facts are around marijuana legalization with our brand was a responsible way of getting information out there.”
For the growing cannabis industry, figuring out how to advertise is a serious challenge. The biggest digital opportunities—Facebook and Google—don’t allow drug advertising. TV and radio advertising can be costly, if not complex—both at a granular, station-by-station level, and at a regulatory level between different states. Rules are a bit more lax with out-of-home advertising, and according to Beals, whose campaign will include ads on buses, bus stops and pedicabs, can be a more meaningful way for people to get to know Weedmaps.
The campaign was all created in-house and as it continues, Weedmaps wants to start pushing it out more digitally and on social media.
“The future is interesting because we’re rolling out what I think are really discussion worthy and impactful weed facts that are really going to get people talking,” Beals said.