In Poland, the topic of medical cannabis has been of great interest for many years. The laws regarding the legality of their use, cultivation and promotion to customers are changing all the time. So how to promote medical cannabis legally in Poland? Here is a guide for 2023!
Table of contents:
- What is medical cannabis?
- Medical cannabis and CBD products
- Polish law regulating the cannabis market
- Advertising medical cannabis – legal or illegal?
- Complicated marketing of CBD products
- Forms of promotion of CBD products in Poland
What is medical cannabis?
To begin with, let us systematise our knowledge. Among cannabis, there are two important subspecies: fibre hemp and cannabis. Both contain a group of compounds called phytocannabinoids in their composition.
Among the most popular of these are:
- THC – the substance that produces the narcotic effect,
- CBD – a substance that does not have a psychoactive effect, but has a sedative effect.
Each of these cannabis species contains a different amount of these substances: cannabis contains a composition of THC; fibre hemp has only traces of it. Both species are used to produce medical cannabis, which is used for medicinal purposes.
Medical cannabis and CBD products
Medical cannabis is helpful for a wide range of illnesses and can provide relief from severe pain or during chemotherapy. The proportions of THC and CBD contained in them are individually selected to suit the needs of the individual patient. For medical purposes, higher concentrations of CBD are usually preferred to narcotic THC. Medical cannabis comes in various forms, such as dried, paste, tincture or oil. In Poland, they can only be purchased with a prescription written by a doctor.
It is the issue of availability that distinguishes medical hemp from the increasingly popular dried CBD (flower extracted from fibre hemp) products. In fact, fibre hemp is widely used in Poland: in the construction industry, the chemical industry, the paper industry, the cosmetics industry – we can find it in creams and shampoos – and even the food industry, e.g. in the form of seeds. The popularity of food-grade CBD oils, which have a relaxing and anti-inflammatory effect, is also growing.
Polish law regulating the cannabis market
For many years, non-fibrous cannabis herb was kept on the list of narcotics by Polish law. This meant that medical cannabis could not be legally administered to patients. This was all changed by a 2017 law that allowed pharmaceutical extracts of cannabis to be used for medical purposes. This applied to cannabis with a THC concentration of more than 0.3%. Importantly, however, the cultivation of cannabis in Poland (as opposed to fibre hemp) remained illegal. Dried cannabis was mainly imported from Germany, Canada and the Netherlands.
2022 brought another change. An amendment to the Act on Counteracting Drug Addiction introduced the legal cultivation of cannabis for the production of medical marijuana in Poland. However, such cultivation can only be carried out by research institutes supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture. This is a huge revolution – both for doctors and patients and for producers.
Poland is currently one of the largest medical cannabis markets in Europe in terms of patient numbers. According to Prohibition Partners, in 2021 more than 9,000 patients were being treated with official cannabis therapy. By 2026, the number of legal cannabis users in Poland – both medical and CBD – is estimated to reach 1.3 million.
But does the legalisation of the cultivation and use of cannabis for medical purposes mean complete freedom in terms of its promotion? Well … not exactly.
Medical cannabis advertising – legal or illegal?
Polish law categorically prohibits the advertising and promotion of psychotropic substances, narcotics, substitutes or new psychoactive substances. Nonetheless, the 2001 Pharmaceutical Law on medicinal products containing psychotropic substances or narcotics allows advertising of such products.
However, there is still not complete freedom here. Such advertising cannot be public and accessible to the general public (e.g. on Facebook or YouTube).
Advertising of medical cannabis can only be aimed at individuals:
- authorised to issue prescriptions (doctors),
- those handling medicinal products (pharmacists).
However, this prohibition does not apply to forms of fulfilling the information obligation towards patients. That is, patient education on the effects of medical cannabis combined with health promotion may be used.
Such educational content can include:
- patient information leaflets,
- tutorials (e.g. on side effects, the treatment process, case studies),
- trade catalogues and price lists,
- information posted for medicines,
- educational material to inform on the latest research related to the use of medical cannabis,
- correspondence accompanied by non-promotional material.
Complicated marketing of CBD products
Unlike medical cannabis, the advertising and promotion of CDB products (such as popular CBD oils) are not subject to such strict prohibitions. This is important news for producers, as the market for CBD products in Europe is estimated to grow to more than $3 billion by 2025.
CBD oils have recently become popular on the Polish market, advertised as a supplement that helps with sleep, has a calming effect and also aids in the treatment of certain illnesses such as chronic stress or depression. CBD oils do not contain psychoactive substances and are available in Poland without a prescription.
And although EU law says that the sale of food products with CBD is legal (provided that the THC content of such products does not exceed 0.2%), in Poland, companies have to obtain permission to allow the goods to be marketed. What is most interesting, however, is that it is still possible to legally sell CBD goods, but without publicly stating these products…. are food products. Although the hemp industry has been trying to simplify this law for years, there are still no clear regulations for the sale of specific CBD products in Poland.
All these inaccuracies cause difficulties in marketing and advertising CBD products. If you want to carry out promotional communication or invest in advertising in Poland, you need to be up to date with current regulations and be very careful with your words. Using certain wording can expose you to legal consequences. Moreover, promoting CBD products is not always possible with popular communication channels.
Forms of promotion of CBD products in Poland
What forms of communication and promotion can be used in Poland for CBD products – and where will it be illegal?
CBD is on the list of banned substances here, and violation of this ban has been subject to severe sanctions. Paid advertising of CBD products is therefore not possible in the Google ecosystem (e.g. in the form of search ads).
Social media advertising
With the help of paid advertising on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, it is also not allowed to advertise CBD food products. Running a brand account with educational content, on the other hand, is already allowed.
In view of the ban on the use of classic paid advertisements in promotional activities, it is worth placing emphasis on positioning the website for relevant phrases and keywords. A company blog or podcast with educational content will work great for this.
Company website and shop
The optimisation of the content of the website and online shop itself has a great impact on the positioning and overall perception of the brand by customers. Information such as dosage, certification, testing or product origin should appear in the product descriptions.
Building an email list is a great way to maintain consistent brand exposure among brand customers. It’s worth investing in really interesting content here that will genuinely interest your audience.
Working with influencers is an excellent way to reach a specific target group in Poland with your advertising message – and without the need for classic paid advertising. Various communication channels such as Instagram, YouTube and even the growing podcasts are worth testing here.
Medical hemp and CBD products are some of the most heavily regulated sectors in Poland. Knowing what options are available to promote your goods and staying up to date with updates in Polish law is a must if you want to avoid really harsh penalties. If you are active in this sector and want to enter the Polish market – without the support of specialists you risk a lot. We are a Polish marketing agency with experience in promoting brands in industries considered difficult. Get in touch with us!