Under the pilot program, brands still can’t advertise products that can be ingested or inhaled. The revised policy will allow sellers to market topical products including creams and other beauty products; prescription medications that contain CBD and are FDA-approved; and other products that can’t be ingested, such as candles and bath bombs.
CBD advertisers will now be able to advertise using keywords in the regions covered by the pilot. Additionally, topical hemp-derived CBD with a THC content of 0.3% or less and FDA-approved CBD pharmaceuticals will be removed from Google’s list of “unapproved pharmaceuticals and substances,” said the spokesperson.
‘Huge’ change for CBD brands
“I’m glad this is happening, I just wish it was more aggressive,” said Dickens, of Google’s policy change.
“I’m disappointed to hear it’s only a pilot program,” he said. “My question is, what are they waiting for?” He said that while he plans to take advantage of the policy change, the program will be most helpful in terms of regional advertising given its limited scope.
“These locations were chosen based on a variety of factors including size, region, and maturity of the market,” said the Google spokesperson over email. Google “will look at feedback before deciding to open our platforms to these products in other locations.”
The change “is huge,” said Coral Hines, CEO of Buena Botanicals, a Georgia-based natural CBD lifestyle brand with three employees that was founded in 2019. “Google is the main search engine that people use to see what’s around them.”
Hines hopes to see the program expanded not just in scope but in terms of products allowed, as the program is “still very restrictive” in what it allows to be advertised, she said.
Google will partner with monitoring and compliance company LegitScript to vet advertisers, which entails looking into whether a company’s products comply with federal THC limits. Advertisers will need to be re-approved annually. The ads will be age-restricted and unavailable to people under 18.
New CBD advertisers will need to follow all of Google’s existing ad policies, which include regulations against misleading medical ads and local requirements for pharmacies, which make up a small fraction of CBD advertisers, according to a Google spokesperson.
Google competitor Facebook, owned by Meta, still prohibits CBD and cannabis products from being advertised, a representative confirmed.
Twitter changed its advertising policy in 2019 to now allow for the marketing of non-ingestible CBD products in the U.S. with the exception of states including Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Virginia. Advertisers need to be approved by Twitter in advance and cannot target people under 21 years old. Twitter representatives couldn’t be reached for comment.
TikTok’s North American ad policy doesn’t mention CBD. Representatives couldn’t be reached for comment.