Twilio’s Messaging Policy forbids sending messages about anything that is illegal in the jurisdiction where the message recipient lives. This policy affects messaging related to cannabis (marijuana) and cannabidiol (CBD) in the United States, as well as many other countries.
- SMS and MMS
- What alternatives do I have for cannabis-related messaging?
SMS and MMS
The United States
SMS or MMS messages related to cannabis are not allowed in the United States, as federal laws prohibit its sale, even though some states have legalized it. Similarly, messages related to CBD products are not permissible in the United States, as certain states prohibit its sale. Twilio's Messaging Policy is reflective of US carrier rules in this area, and there are no exceptions to this policy.
Twilio defines a cannabis-related message as any message which relates to the marketing or sale of a cannabis product, regardless of whether or not those messages explicitly contain cannabis terms, images, or links to cannabis websites.
Twilio policy and carrier regulations strictly prohibits the sale, use, or promotion of SMS/MMS messaging for any content related to paraphernalia, cannabis, CBD, or any other by-products of cannabis in Canada. This rule applies irrespective of the legal status of cannabis and CBD within any Canadian province or territory. This prohibition covers all use cases across all channels (Short Code, Toll-Free, and Long Code), meaning that even messages that do not explicitly mention cannabis or CBD, such as those used for two-factor authentication (2FA), or Point of Sale services, are not permitted if they are linked to cannabis and CBD activities.
Cannabis and/or CBD products are illegal in many countries around the world. Per Twilio’s Messaging Policy, sending messages about cannabis in these countries is a violation of Twilio policy. In countries where cannabis is fully legal, message traffic is permissible unless forbidden by local carrier rules. If Twilio is aware of relevant restrictions, these will be published on the SMS Guidelines page for the country in question. If you are unsure whether your use case is legal or compliant in a given country, we recommend you seek qualified legal counsel.
Cannabis-related messaging is not allowed over WhatsApp, as WhatsApp’s rules prohibit drug-related use cases. See: What use cases and businesses are allowed to use WhatsApp on Twilio?
What alternatives do I have for cannabis-related messaging?
Cannabis-related traffic is not allowed on the SMS, MMS or WhatsApp channels, but there are other options.
The Twilio Sendgrid Email API is a good option for cannabis-related traffic, as long as you have proper age gating in place and are sending toward recipients in a locale where the substance is legal (such as US states which have legalized cannabis).
As always, explicit opt-in is required before sending messages to recipients. You may not send emails to recipients who have not agreed to receive email from you, whether for marketing purposes or as part of a business transaction.
In addition, Twilio Programmable Voice is not subject to the same carrier restrictions as SMS. Cannabis customers could use voice calling for delivery or order pickup notifications, for example, by calling the recipient and using a TwiML <Say> verb to read an automated message.
If you'd like to learn more, talk to Sales to learn more about how your use case could work on Twilio.
Updated July 28th, 2023