Google Ads for CBD (Is It even legit?)

Google Ads for CBD

The CBD business continues to be controversial. On one hand, business is booming! And on the other hand, companies and Governments keep trying to label marijuana as highly dangerous.

Let’s not get into the debate here, though! The question is simple. Does Google Ads allow CBD?

As it is, Google explicitly forbids the term ‘Marijuana’ and labels it as ‘dangerous.’ (Marijuana is dangerous. There is no debate about that.)

However, CBD or hemp oil extract has proven medicinal value. It does not come within the recreational drug bracket. Besides, with so many states in the USA legalizing cannabis, the business potential is huge!

So, where do we stand? Let’s see.

Google policies for recreational drugs

What is the Google policy regarding this? First, let’s check the list of unapproved pharmaceuticals. CBD (Cannabidiol) is right there on number 21, after the ‘Cannibal Ferox Amped.’ ‘Hemp’ and ‘Marijuana’ do not appear in this list, though.

Next, let’s see the page for ‘dangerous products.’ Yes, ‘recreational drugs’ are there. Google ads explicitly forbid Marijuana in the first two points.

  • You cannot place ads for mind-altering substances. It’s not eligible if it causes a ‘high.’  
  • Services and items that cater to such drugs cannot place ads. So, do you have a cannabis coffee shop? No, you cannot advertise on Google!
  • Forums to discuss such drug use are not eligible.

Consequences of Ad Policy Violations

Think again if you are trying to bypass these rules. What happens if somehow you still manage to get your marijuana business on the ad map? Well, God forbid if you get caught!

Here’s what can happen.

  • Disapproval: Put simply, a moderator will not allow your ad to be up there.
  • Suspension: They can suspend your ad account, by all means. Is it a risk worth taking? However, such an extreme step is usually for repeat offenders.
  • Disabling of the remarketing list: You won’t be able to re-target users who showed interest in your brand.
  • Compliance review: You may be up for a review by the most hardcore people in the business.  

It is a matter of debate

Is CBD oil legit in Google Ads? Check out this forum thread. The best answer states that it is not legit. But, you are always open to submitting feedback to Google.

However, we want to stay away from the debate here. If it is not allowed, it is not! Do note that free web exists beyond Google ad service.

There are thousands of sites selling CBD oil and forums discussing marijuana on Google. Go there if you need to vent. You just can’t promote it as ads.

Does any ad format allow it?

Now that you are persistent, let’s look a little bit deeper. We ran a few tests on Google regarding CBD oil products. The results are interesting. Have hope!

A search ad appeared for CBD oil, but not on top of the SERP. It was ranked below the regular organic listings and did not link to a direct site. Guess what? It was an ad from an Amazon vendor selling CBD oil. You get the idea!

Also, we check out shopping ads. It seemed only relevant that these should show CBD oil products. Google shopping did not disappoint us.

The products were there alright but not as ‘CBD,’ ‘marijuana,’ or ‘hemp.’ It appeared under keywords such as ‘natural plant extract for joint pain,’ and so on.

For the uninitiated, here are the key formats for Google Ads.

  • Firstly, search ads mimicking organic results in the text format
  • Secondly, shopping ads showing a product image
  • Next, video ads on YouTube
  • the Google Display Network (GDN) serving banner ads
  • App ads for the Google Play Store

Possible best practice for CBD ads with Google

To start with, we recommend you try the manual mode in Google Ads campaigns. This is going to be tricky! The manual mode presents advertisers with a world of options to fine-tune campaigns.

You can access Google Analytics, choose your bidding strategy, decide its frequency, and so on. The alternative to this is the default ‘smart mode’ for new marketers.

You simply choose a few keyword themes, set a minimum budget, and let go. Google takes care of the rest. It will decide your bid amount.

Also, it will decide your spending, and where the ads must appear. It is very opaque, and you can access only restricted analytics.

So, it is better to craft your ad manually. Simply choose the ‘expert mode’ on the initial page where Google Ads asks you to set campaign goals.

Did Google reject your CBD ad?

Here’s an issue we observed with Google Ads. Nowhere does it mention ‘hemp’ as a forbidden substance. So, it should be technically legit to use it! However, in the end, it turns out to rely on human error.

As it is, the Google Ads moderators may hold conflicting views. Some of them think hemp is legit, while others do not. This is the response we got from repeatedly getting in touch.

Anyways, if someone rejected your CBD ad, try a different keyword strategy. CBD you cannot use as keywords. But, you can use ‘natural supplements’ and their variations.

Tips to get your CBD ad approved

Take it from expert marketers. Here are a few tips.

  • Try legit keyword combos
  • Create a separate landing page that does not mention CBD or marijuana
  • Try running the ad via an entirely new Google Ads account
  • Focus on describing the benefits of the ‘natural oil’ in your search ad copy

Last but not the least, you should stay on the radar. Google ad policies change frequently. They do not make big announcements. They would rather do a live stream or publish a blog with the changes.

You never know when the tables can turn in favor of marijuana. Big changes can happen all of a sudden! Also, on your part, try to get some public opinion on the matter and deliver the feedback. The authorities may as well take notice.


Placing Google Ads for CBD is not easy. Directly, you cannot promote it.

However, there are still ways by which you can get your ad shown on Google. Check them out, and best of luck!

As always, for any help with your Google ads account management, contact me and I would be happy to help you.

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