While Canada has had legal medical cannabis since 2001, for some, there is still a stigma surrounding the idea of cannabis as medicine. After decades of prohibition and misinformation surrounding cannabis, it is no surprise that some people may be reluctant to explore it as a treatment option. How, then, can Canadian cannabis companies encourage the use of medical cannabis as an effective medical drug for particular symptoms and illnesses?
Marketing of Medical Cannabis
In Canada, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), and the newly-proposed Cannabis Act regulations, restrict the types of information that can be included on packaging and prohibit advertising to the general public. Medical cannabis in Canada is treated as a narcotic in this regard.
Recreational cannabis has its own restrictions when it comes to advertising. Part of the recently-passed Cannabis Act prohibits the branding of recreational cannabis in ways that appeal to children. Promotion is limited to channels that cannot be accessed by young Canadians.
“The Cannabis Act, passed in July 2018, sets forth a strict regulatory regime that balances public health concerns with the needs of the cannabis industry to promote and discuss product innovations. The proposed Cannabis Act regulations prevent exposure to minors while also allowing cannabis companies to promote their brands through multiple channels such as websites, social media, and email.” -Joseph Wright, NuSierra Co-Founder and Former Director of the State of Illinois Medical Cannabis Program
While cannabis advertising is limited in Canada, this does not mean that marketing is not allowed. Websites, online newsletters, social media, and emails are all viable ways to share information. Digital marketing is a growing field that encompasses these methods as well as pay-per-click ads and more. While pay-per-click ads are not allowed under current regulations, companies may still share information via other digital channels.
Targeting the Medical Cannabis Audience
Because medical cannabis is not an option for all Canadians, it is wise to target only those groups who need information about cannabis. Currently, there are two sorts of people who must have the best and latest information available when it comes to medical cannabis—those who may benefit from medical cannabis and those who are authorized to recommend it when appropriate. Reaching these two groups is imperative for generating demand for medical cannabis.
Currently, medical cannabis in Canada use is limited to patients who have not had success with traditional treatment options for the following symptoms or illnesses:
- Neuropathic pain
- Pain, nausea, or loss of appetite associated with cancer
- Loss of appetite associated with HIV/AIDS
- Symptoms experienced during palliative care
- Insomnia or depressed mood as part of a chronic condition
- Pain associated with multiple sclerosis
Other symptoms may be considered on a case by case basis by a healthcare provider.
Identifying doctors that treat patients with these symptoms and illnesses can help Canadian cannabis companies narrow their scope, allowing them to focus their educational efforts on doctors who may be treating patients eligible for medical cannabis.
To help educate patients on their options when it comes to medical cannabis, Canadian cannabis companies should consider using their websites as a tool. Sharing how medical cannabis can help patients dealing with each of the above symptoms and highlighting appropriate research on blog posts and in easily accessible lead magnets like white papers and downloadable brochures can help destigmatize medical cannabis and provide patients with the knowledge they need to make informed choices. Consistently sharing reliable, easy to read content targeting each symptom type can help Canadian cannabis companies rank well on search engines, ensuring that those who are looking for the information they are publishing will be able to find it.
Medical marijuana in Canada has come a long way since it was first allowed in 2001—and the market continues to look bright. Ensuring that information about the benefits of medical cannabis is shared with those who need it can continue to generate demand for medical cannabis and destigmatize cannabis use, even after recreational cannabis goes on sale.
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