Google Grants Cannabis Group $240,000 in AdWords Money

Google’s got $5 on it … er, make that $240,000. This is according to last week’s announcement from medical cannabis nonprofit Michigan Compassion. In its announcement, the nonprofit said $240,000 in AdWords grants had been given by the Google Grants program.


If you’re unfamiliar with Google Grants, it’s the nonprofit version of AdWords launched in 2003, which allows participating nonprofits to spend up to $10,000 per month in grants on AdWords.

The grant for Michigan Compassion advertising doesn’t seem to fit neatly within any of Google’s AdWords policies. According to its guidelines, there are certain restrictions on prescription drugs and even tobacco, but since Michigan Compassion is not a direct retailer for prescription marijuana, rather an organization dedicated to the awareness of the benefits of medical cannabis, the guidelines could be different.

It looks as though an organization like this could be given the same allowances that say, vaporizers are in AdWords. While Google does not allow the direct sale of drug paraphernalia, it does allow the sale of vaporizers “when promoted as a humidifier or as an aromatherapy device to relieve respiratory symptoms.”



We reached out to Google for some clarification on the grant and any restrictions that ads from Michigan Compassion might have. Google did not comment on the matter, but we were curious about a few things:

  • Will ads from Michigan Compassion be assigned a family status or non-family status?
  • Will ads be targeted only to Michigan or also to other states allowing medical marijuana?
  • How does Google distinguish between the promotion of tobacco versus promotion of cannabis in AdWords?

We do know that advertisers participating in Google Grants will be given a lower priority in the results. In a January post on Search Engine Watch, Amman Badlani talked about recent changes to the Google Grants program, which would place all ads from grants below the ads of traditional AdWords advertisers.

If you’re thinking about applying for the program, Badlani gives several tips in that article on how to maximize the value of grants your organization receives.

We’ll update you if and when we hear back from Google or Michigan Compassion on the AdWords grant.

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