Outdoor Advertising & Cannabis

Although cannabis has been legalized in many states, including veteran Colorado, advertising regulations remain complex for the industry.  There are no hard and fast rules. What is acceptable in one state may not be permitted in another.

For years, advertising cannabis-related businesses has not been permitted within the Denver Metro Area.  This has prompted many dispensaries in Colorado to sponsor local highways, as a simple way to get their name out there.

However, we’re beginning to see cannabis advertising regulations loosen, and gain momentum in the out-of-home space.

Cannabis Advertising in Colorado

Billboards around Denver are beginning to promote local dispensaries and cannabis-related brands.  While Denver itself does not currently allow OOH cannabis ads, there are exceptions. Some cities around Denver including Glendale, Thornton, & Northglenn are allowing for regulated cannabis advertising. Restrictions and regulations vary from city to city and must be in accordance with specific municipal codes.

Advertisers must agree that no more than 28.4% of their audience is underage and that ads do not target minors. Within the Denver Metro area, 71.74% of the population is 21 years of age or older.  This is important because similar to alcohol advertisements, cannabis-related advertising must target a primary demographic of adults 21+.

In addition, most outdoor ads cannot be placed near schools, public playgrounds, or churches. Some states have regulations stating that advertisements for cannabis (like alcohol) must be at least 500 feet or more from these locations.

Outdoor Advertising for Cannabis-related Businesses

One reason outdoor advertising remains popular is because you target it to a narrow group, within a city or along a roadway, where it is legal. You don’t have to worry about if you’re reaching people who can’t buy your product, which is a huge concern with online marketing of marijuana.

Cannabis-related companies have been limited in terms of options for legally advertising their businesses. So far, available outdoor options include billboards and mobile billboards. CBD-related companies have also managed to get acceptance to advertise on transit shelters or kiosks.

Large formats such as billboards allow cannabis companies to advertise, as long as creative meets city specific guidelines. Depending on the city, messaging may be limited to directional signage within a specific radius of a retail location.

Location Specific Ads

Because of all the confusing legalities surrounding cannabis, local, hyper-focused advertising offers the safest approach.

The ability to customize the location of ads, allows advertisers to better reach their target audience. Utilizing an OOH product such as a mobile billboard, allows cannabis-related businesses to minimize the possibility of ads violating city and state ordinances.  For instance, advertising along a route consisting of mainly bars and restaurants almost guarantees your target audience will be 21+. Furthermore, mediums such as mobile billboards, allow for not only GPS tracking, but also demographic reporting, which can show who is exposed to an ad during a campaign. Added benefits of digital over static are that creative can easily be swapped out, multiple creatives can run, and they offer higher visibility day and night.

The power of OOH advertising in undeniable.  In the coming year, we hope to see greater certainty over cannabis laws and regulations as well as more consistent decisions by local authorities regarding the legality of billboards and other outdoor cannabis advertising options.


Ad Focus offers a variety of OOH/Outdoor advertising products. For more information or to inquire about pricing or product availability contact us today.