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Ten US states have already legalized cannabis for recreational use and more are predicted to do so in the coming years, with an Illinois bill recently passing through legislature and awaiting signature into law. This opens up a new market for media owners, with figures from Kantar showing that cannabis retailers upped their ad spending by 23% year-over-year in 2018 to reach $4.1 million.

As each state with legalized cannabis also has different regulations on advertising, navigating the dos and don’ts can be tricky. Kantar’s data indicates that outdoor advertising is where cannabis advertisers are putting the majority of their spend. In 2018, these advertisers (including clinics and dispensaries, but not cannabis or CBD products) spent $3.5 million (up from $2.8 million in 2017) in outdoor advertising, which is far and above the second-highest platforms, spot TV and local magazines (each at $0.9 million).

Out-of-home advertising, in general, saw another increase in revenues last year, making it one of the few traditional forms of advertising still holding strong.

Meanwhile, internet display advertising experienced an increase to $0.2 million in advertising spend in 2018, compared to $0.1 million the year before. However, cannabis retailers’ ad spending on newspapers decreased from $0.4 million in 2017 to $0.2 million in 2018.

So, who are cannabis consumers? Kantar surveyed 1,000 US cannabis consumers and found that more than three-quarters (77%) use cannabis for both medical and recreational use, with the majority (86%) saying they value purchasing from a licensed vendor with known quality controls.

A separate Nielsen study reveals that 85% of US adults (ages 21 and older) said they would use cannabis (were it legally available) to treat chronic pain, while 82% said they would use it to improve mental health and 81% to treat minor injuries. Other notable reasons for cannabis use include aiding sleep (77%), relaxation (74%), disease or ailment prevention (60%), improving physical health (58%) and to have a good time with friends and family (48%).

With most of the top reasons for use being for medical issues, Nielsen’s study found that most of the adults interested in using cannabis currently use an OTC/RX medication for the treatment of pain such as headaches/migraines (88%), neck/back (64%) and arthritis (63%).

About the Data: Kantar: Analysis focuses on marijuana retailers including clinics and dispensaries, and does not include marijuana or CBD products. The figures are also based on a survey of 1,000 US cannabis consumers conducted by Kantar and Leafy.

Nielsen: All information is based on the measurement of sales of cannabis products in U.S. jurisdictions where such sales have been legalized, or consumer intentions with respect to future consumption of legal cannabis products.

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