Cannabis Advertising Rules in Canada
Cannabis use in Canada is well underway, but marketers and advertisers are restricted from appealing to the youth, showing prices, and using testimonials. These regulations are often vaguely worded resulting in warning and compliance letters. As a result, cannabis advertisers have been pushing the envelope in terms of promoting their product or service in order to clearly define those marketing regulations.
Cannabis use was legalized on October 17, 2018 in Canada and, as predicted, the controversial new laws have been slow to roll out. Cannabis brands have had to be creative when advertising their products. Here are a few restrictions that currently affect cannabis brands and consumers.
Under current Canadian cannabis laws, brands are prohibited from promoting cannabis products, accessories, or services. More specifically, cannabis advertising and marketing is restricted in the following ways:
● Cannabis brands are restricted from using customer testimonials or endorsements of a product. The law also states that “licensed marijuana companies are allowed to enter into business relationships with celebrities.”
● Apart from celebrities, fictional characters are prohibited from endorsing cannabis products.
● Cannabis brands can’t promote cannabis as an attractive lifestyle choice.
● Brands can’t share information about their prices or distribution
Cannabis and cannabis accessories promotion is allowed, but severely restricted. Under specific circumstances, however, cannabis ads can be displayed. For example, a Cineplex VIP theatre has been showing a cannabis company’s (Canopy Growth) advertisement for about a year because they comply with federal regulations and their guests are of legal age.
Canada’s Cannabis Act also has a provision prohibiting the false promotion of cannabis or cannabis accessories. That means brands must be factual about the product’s characteristics, quantity, potency, purity, and other qualities. Cannabis accessory brands must not be misleading about their product’s design, performance, composition, health effects, and other factors.
Packaging and Labeling
Canada has strict packaging and labeling laws that instruct products to be packaged in matte-finish packaging without any character or animal that may appeal to young people. Brands can include information about their product’s specific characteristics for informational purposes. They must include a health warning and other pertinent information such as packaging date, lot number, and storage conditions. The packaging is purposely restricted to limit its overall appeal.
Cannabis businesses aren’t allowed to advertise their product’s price because that’s considered customer inducement. If you’re a cannabis consumer, you won’t know the price of a product until your inside a retail shop or ordering online. Health Canada intended to limit competition and increase cannabis accessibility to those who need it.
Under the Cannabis Act, cannabis brands are prohibited from displaying or using their brand elements in promotions for the sponsorship of a person, entity, event, activity, or facility. Furthermore, cannabis businesses can’t have their names or brand elements displayed on sports or cultural facilities.
Canada’s marketing and advertising restrictions are disliked by many cannabis producers who say that strict regulations embolden “grey market” shops. Health Canada continues to make changes to the rules in order to protect consumers and provide adequate access to meet the demand. Cannabis brands are left trying to connect with consumers in innovative ways.