Canada is the first G-7 country to pass legislation to make cannabis legal throughout the country. The Canadian legislation C-45 makes the production and retail distribution of marijuana legal to adults 18 years of age and older. Not only is this a massive step for Canada, but the country’s push for legalization is likely to spark reform throughout the world. It certainly puts the United States in the hot seat as the push for marijuana reform spreads from state to state. The recreational Canada marijuana market is set to roll out in October 2018. As the country prepares for the retail market to open up, Canadian lawmakers are coming together to create efficient, reasonable, and distinct compliance regulations.
The Primary Point of Concern with Canada Marijuana
Canada’s medical marijuana industry is doing quite well and has set a precedent for how retail marijuana will integrate into law. This transition from solely medical cannabis to recreational marijuana is not an easy task. We see just how difficult the change is with California’s cannabis industry. They are having issues pulling people away from the black market due to the high taxes, application fees, and the overall cost of products. Canada does an excellent job of regulating their medical market, but retail cannabis is a whole other ballgame. One of the main points of concern for Health Canada and local governments is how the industry will be allowed to market and promote products. Will Canada allow its national market to become commercialized, or will the country keep it in the interest of public health? This balance is tough to find.
Current Advertising Laws of Cannabis in Canada
With the recent nationwide legalization of Canada marijuana, there is quite a bit of reform that must take place in the upcoming industry. Not only do common compliance laws and regulations need to be put in place, but Canada's advertising regulations require some serious reform. Many large marketing platforms, like Facebook, Google, Instagram, and Twitter have very stringent rules on advertising cannabis on their media outlets. This is commonly due to the federal stance on marijuana, and it makes it tough to educate the everyday consumer.
Canada’s Established Advertising Laws for Medical Marijuana:
- FDA s 3. (1) – “No person shall advertise any food, drug, cosmetic or device to the general public as a treatment, preventative, or cure for any of the diseases, disorders or abnormal physical states…”
- FDA s 9. (1) ? “No person shall label, package, treat, process, sell or advertise any drug in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character, value, quantity, composition, merit or safety.”
- NCR s 70. ? “No person shall publish or cause to published or furnish any advertisement respecting a narcotic unless symbol “N” is clearly and conspicuously displayed in the upper left-hand quarter thereof or, if the advertisement consists of more than one page, on the first page thereof; or advertise in a pharmaceutical preparation.”
These established Canada marijuana laws are stringent and call for strong consequences if not followed. Those deemed non-compliant can face fines from $250,000 to $5 million and possible jail time of 6 months, up to a few years. However, the interpretation of these laws is not always easy to understand. The purpose of these advertising laws is to keep the public from being persuaded to consume cannabis for false reasons. It also helps to limit the available advertisements seen by underage individuals. However, many industry leaders are saying these regulations do not serve the purpose of public health and are looking for reform as the retail cannabis market grows.
Industry Push Back on Advertising Regulations
Canada is the home base to some of the world's largest marijuana companies. With the ability for big capital to make its way into the industry and for companies to publicly trade stock, the Canada marijuana industry will grow to be massive under recreational laws. While many legal pot shops, manufacturers, and cultivators have no problem with specific advertising laws, they do not see the established regulations benefiting the consumers. Health Canada is all about promoting the interest of public health rather than big business. Many Canadian cannabis companies say these advertising laws make it tough to educate the consumers about this entirely new industry.
Consumer education is the most difficult part of creating public awareness about quality marijuana products. A lack of advertising keeps the public in the dark. The Canadian industry is calling on advertisement reform to keep the industry honest and keep the public educated.