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There are specific rules associated with cannabis marketing and other promotional activities and these rules are limited and strict. However, despite this, cannabis marketing and advertising are popping up all around Canada and other countries. There are people that don't know how to decipher the grey areas and how they should be applied so as to remain legal. Canada has fully legalized cannabis since October 17, 2018 and now it has been a month since this amazing occurrence to the delight of Canadian residents.
However, the grey area still exists and of course, there are disagreements as to how to approach cannabis marketing. There are rules governing this and the Cannabis Act provides such rules. Many cannabis licensees are still trying to figure it out and are still uncertain about whether to be aggressive with their cannabis marketing and advertising or whether to hold back.
The Prior Activities
Before full cannabis legalization was realized in Canada, many potential business owners wanted to get a step ahead and so it was not surprising to see cannabis billboards across the country including pop-up kiosk that provided information and sponsored concerts. In addition, prospective cannabis entrepreneurs used taxi cab advertising and social media to introduce their brands. One thing to note is that the Cannabis Act prevents potential entrepreneurs from using cannabis marketing and advertising to promote to young people. And so cannabis ads cannot be placed in areas where it can be seen by any child that is not of legal age (under 18 years old).
You cannot use endorsements nor can you depict a character, person or animal in your cannabis marketing and advertising that presents and represents the object of excitement, recreation, glamour, daring, risk or vitality. In other words, potential entrepreneurs cannot depict cannabis as a way of life or lifestyle that represents glamour, excitement and risk; just to name a few. Right now, according to Health Canada, regulated parties have been contacted to work out the semantics, address issues and find solutions so that no one violates the Cannabis Act. The regulated parties are currently unknown by design because they are expected to make their final observation in an unbiased way, acting in good faith and taking the required measures for correction of the situation.
The Canadian government has its own guidelines on cannabis marketing and promotion of pot with certain clauses and exceptions that warrant consideration and interpretation. One of the exceptions provided does allow cannabis marketing and promotion as long as brand element is utilized on a product not associated with a young person or on ‘vitality.' And so what this might mean is that a company's brand name and the website address might be tolerated on a billboard.
If you are unsure about your cannabis marketing tactics, it is best to consult the relevant authorities for clarification or an attorney. A taxi cab was observed in the city of Toronto with a tag line and brand name being advertised. The tag line read, “Buds don't travel high. Drive safely.” There is no way that you could identify this as cannabis buds because the word “cannabis' was not used in the tag line. This was genius and so this might be allowed. Run your cannabis marketing ads pursuant to the loopholes found in the rules and regulations. A good attorney should be able to steer you in the right direction. It is best to be compliant as it relates to the rules and guidelines put in place by the Canadian legislature.
Don't Forget These Rules
Every situation will be different and if you are not sure, just ask. While you wait for clarification, do not put your cannabis marketing on T-shirts or anything tangible. Rather, it is better to leverage the social media networks available to you.