Marketing Restrictions in the Cannabis Industry

Since the legalization of cannabis and the coming into force of the laws and regulations that govern the use, possession and sale of cannabis on October 17, 2018, there has been some uncertainty surrounding the marketing and promotion of cannabis.

Bill C-45, An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (Cannabis Act), Parliament of Canada, came into force on October 17, 2018. The Cannabis Act regulates the promotion and packaging of cannabis and  cannabis accessories, which include rolling papers, holders, pipes, water pipes, bongs and vaporizers, among other things.

So….what are some marketing restrictions to know for my Cannabis Business?

One thing to note is that the Cannabis Act does not allow marketing cannabis, cannabis accessories or services in the following ways:

  • You cannot communicate price or distribution information
  • You cannot appeal to individuals under 18 years of age
  • You cannot use testimonials or endorsements, however displayed or communicated
  • You cannot depict a person, character or animal, whether real or fictional
  • You cannot use the cannabis, accessory or any brand element in a manner that associates the product or brand with, or evokes a positive or negative emotion about or image of, a way of life, such as glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring

The above restrictions, among others, mean that many popular and widespread advertising strategies (for example, the use of testimonials and endorsements) is not available to cannabis marketers.

Wait…How about Cannabis “SWAG”?  A common question we often get is can you market your company’s logo on swag?

A licence holder can promote cannabis by placing their brand element (as defined in the Act) on a thing that is not cannabis or a cannabis accessory. For example, coffee mugs and T-shirts. However, note that under the Act, licence holders cannot use this exception to sell matchbooks, lighters or any other thing that is commonly used in the consumption of cannabis with their brand element on it. In addition, the Act prohibits licence holders from promoting cannabis, cannabis accessories or services related to cannabis by displaying a brand element on “a thing that is associated with young persons; a thing that there are reasonable grounds to believe could be appealing to young persons; or a thing that is associated with a way of life such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.” 

Before promoting cannabis or selling any SWAG displaying a cannabis brand element, organizations should seek legal advice to help them navigate the promotion prohibitions imposed by the Act.

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If you would like to learn more about cannabis regulations and marketing restrictions, schedule an initial consultation at Emerge Law Today!

The content of this article is written for general information purposes only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. This article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed lawyer.