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CBD rum ad ruling points to new marketing restrictions

Published:  16 October, 2019

The ASA has banned adverts for a cannabis-oil infused rum, in a ruling that could have implications for the marketing of the fast-growing CBD-drinks sector.

The Scottish government is now considering further restrictions on drinks advertising as a result.

“Adverts which include illicit drugs references to promote and sell alcoholic products are irresponsible,” a spokesperson told The Times.

“We plan to consult on a range of measures to restrict alcohol marketing in 2020.”

The Cornish Rum Company added a Hemp Rum to its Dead Man’s Fingers range earlier this year infused with natural hemp and CBD (cannabidiol).

As part of a £2m advertising campaign, the company’s Instagram feed featured posts in July with a range of phrases, such as “Coming to a joint near you”, “It will quite literally blow your mind”, and “Warning: our hemp rum might cause the munchies”.

The latter phrase was accompanied by an image of a skull which was smoking a roll-up cigarette and wearing a hat which bore a cannabis-leaf print.

The campaign also ran a print media advert in the Scottish Licensed Trade News, also in July, targeting potential retailers in Scotland with the phrase “Dealers wanted”.

This provoked a complaint to the ASA from the Scottish government’s alcohol harm prevention team, which argued that the wording of the campaign linked alcohol to drug abuse.

The government also challenged whether the the claim that Hemp Rum “will quite literally blow your mind” portrayed alcohol as capable of changing mood.

The Cornish Rum Company, which is part of Halewood International, acknowledged the use of slang terms in the campaign, but denied that these linked their product to illicit cannabis use.

It argued that the word “joint” was a slang term for an establishment such as a local bar, pub or retail outlet, that “munchies” was a term for hunger generally, and that “dealers” was used as a slang term for someone who bought or sold any goods or products.

The ASA upheld the complaint and banned the ads in question, although it did not uphold a further claim from the government that the campaign was of particular appeal to under 18s.

Dead Man's Fingers Hemp Rum has recently won a listing at Sainsbury’s and carries an RRP of £22.