Marketing marijuana after it is legalized

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doubling down saying he still plans to legalize recreational marijuana by this summer.

Some argue the entire process has been rushed, while other say if you wait for everything to be perfect then nothing will ever get done.


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What isn’t up for discussion is the aspect of public safety. It remains paramount for all involved especially when it comes to protecting youth –  which means strict regulations on how cannabis can be marketed once the green rush begins.

“They don’t want to make it too enticing for the young,” said Jerome Konecsni with the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.

“This is where they’re considering no celebrities, no endorsements, none of that thing because it glamorizes the consumption.”

These are prints ads that were featured in ‘Vegas Cannabis’ in the March and April editions from this year. The advertisements place cannabis where an alcohol bottle or a fast car would be.

Other ads rave they will find a consumer the best marijuana brands, products designed by women for women or ways people can spend their tax refund.


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Any promotions that would spur on excitement or daring behaviours on this side of the border are banned by federal regulations and there is a long list to eliminate marketing of weed from becoming the wild west.

“It would be closest to but not exactly sin products – gambling, tobacco, alcohol, beer, pornography,” said David Williams, an associate professor with Edwards School of Business.

Cured flowers of cannabis intended for the medical marijuana market are seen at a licensed producer facility in Moncton, N.B., in an April 14, 2016, file photo.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Ward

Sponsorship of people, events or buildings as well as marketing that is false, misleading or deceptive is also prohibited.

A contest, lottery, game or “2 for 1” style promotions involving cannabis or cannabis accessories wouldn’t be permitted either but are the proposed cannabis act provisions too restrictive?

“If one of our policy objectives is to keep it away from the youth then we have to be able to differentiate from the product from the illicit market products.” Konecsni  added.

“If you leave it too vague, you have less influence on what choices the consumer is going to make.”


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One area that remains a little hazy when it comes to our Canadian cash crop being legalized is how the internet will be enforced when it comes to these ads.

“You put like a date of birth thing in, where you put your legal age but we all know how that can be overskipped, “Williams remarked.

Health Canada will actively monitor the activities of licensed producers to see if they’re breaking any rules.

If a licensed producer is suspected to be in contravention the federal advertising prohibitions, officials say an investigation would be launched  and appropriate action would be taken.

“We have to be prepared to gather good data from the day we launched this to make sure that we make changes when the evidence suggests that we can do better.” Konecsni explained.

According to Konecsni that may mean more breathing room when it comes to branding so consumers can easily identify what pot products are safest.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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