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Advertising Marijuana In Maine

Business owners hope new guidelines can simplify the rules for advertising Cannabis.

Trent Bell Photography

A new bill proposed by a Maine legislator could help Cannabis businesses struggling with restrictive rules around advertising. Rep. Colleen Madigan is in the process of drafting legislation that would simplify the state’s advertising rules and create an appeals process for business owners accused of violating Maine’s marketing guidelines.

As states continue to refine their adult-use Cannabis laws, less attention is paid to rules for advertising. In Maine, where recreational pot sales launched last October, marijuana businesses can’t use images of humans or animals on packaging or labels. 

They’re also prohibited from targeting anyone under 21, as the law states that businesses can’t use advertising “that is attractive to persons under 21 years of age … including images and items commonly marketed toward individuals under 21 years of age.” 

Madigan, however, believes the rules are too vague. “There needs to be a broader look at it so that it’s not as subjective … We don’t want just one person making that decision,” she explains. “We want there to be an appeal process [so] a person doesn’t lose their business because of this.”

The current test case in Maine is SeaWeed Co. of South Portland. In December 2020, SeaWeed was found to be in violation of the state’s advertising rules because the company uses a mermaid in its logo. 

Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy considers a mermaid to be both a human and an animal. 

OMP’s compliance director Vernon Malloch wrote that it “is generally known that mermaids are featured in a number of stories, movies, toys, costumes and other popular culture items and marketing aimed at young children and teenagers, and so images of mermaids have inherent and particular appeal to individuals under 21 years of age.”

The state fined SeaWeed $10,000 and ordered the company to stop using the mermaid in its logo. SeaWeed, which was one of the first licensed adult-use shops in Maine, believes the rules are “open to interpretation.” Under Madigan’s proposal, an appeals process would allow the company to argue its case before a panel and fight to keep its logo.