With festival season in full swing, Health Canada released a report last week addressing their concern about the cannabis industry sponsoring events.
“The Government has made its position regarding event and other kinds of corporate sponsorship and other promotional activities abundantly clear, including by setting out prohibitions in the Cannabis Act,” the statements reads.
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Protecting public health, public safety, and youth are listed as the main reasons for prohibiting licensed producers from event sponsorship that will give their brands exposure.
As the law currently stands under the Narcotic Control Regulations (NCR), “no person shall publish or cause to be published or furnish any advertisement to the general public respecting a narcotic.”
Come October 17, with the implementation of the Cannabis Act, the restrictions will expand to prohibit:
- Promotion that is appealing to youth;
- Promotion that includes false, misleading or deceptive information;
- Promotion through sponsorship of people, events or buildings;
- Promotion through any testimonials or endorsements;
- Promotion using the depictions of persons, celebrities, characters or animals; or
- Promotion that presents a product or a brand in a manner that associates it with a particular way of life (such as one that includes glamour, recreation, risk, excitement or daring behaviours) or a positive or negative emotion.
Violations of these regulations can lead to hefty consequences including license suspension, a maximum fine of $5 million on indictment or a maximum fine of $250,000 for a first offence or $500,000 for a subsequent offence on a summary conviction, with the possibility of imprisonment.
In an email to Daily Hive, a Health Canada representative stated that “information-type promotion–i.e., promotion that presents factual and accurate information about a cannabis product–or brand-preference promotion,” is allowed, “provided that such promotion is communicated in a way that it would not be seen by a young person.”
Furthermore, the promotion of cannabis, cannabis accessories, or cannabis-related services is allowed under certain conditions:
- In a communication addressed and sent to an individual who is 18 years of age or older and is identified by name;
- In a place where young persons are not permitted by law; and
- Communicated by means of a telecommunication, where the person responsible for the content of the promotion has taken reasonable steps to ensure the communication cannot be accessed by a young persons.
Although alcohol companies are well-known for event sponsorship and public promotions and advertising, Health Canada’s approach to cannabis is closer to tobacco regulations.
The unfortunate implication of this is that licensed producers are looking to support arts, culture, and community but are limited in their legal capacity to do so.