Canadian Senate Votes To Ban Cannabis Companies’ Use Of Branded Products
In a 34-28 vote, Canada’s Senate passed an amendment to C-45 that would prohibit companies operating in the cannabis sector from selling promotional items featuring their logos. C-45, the Canadian government’s cannabis bill, would legalize access to marijuana in the country as well as regulate how it is grown, distributed and sold.
“There are enormous regulations in terms of marketing cannabis, and at this stage in the game a lot of that is still up in the air,” says Ben Baker, president of distributor Your Brand Marketing in Richmond, British Columbia. “How it’s marketed, who it’s marketed to, packaging regulations and more are still not finalized, and unless you’re an expert, you can get in a lot of trouble very quickly. The law is being written and amended as we speak, so this one of those things where it is really a ‘wait and see.’”
The amendment, submitted by Sen. Judith Seidman, removes sections from C-45 that permitted cannabis companies to advertise their brands using promotional products. While C-45 already contains strong limitations on marketing marijuana, the amendment closes a loophole that allowed companies in the industry to brand items unrelated to cannabis.
Opponents of the amendment say that it places limits on businesses’ freedom of commercial expression, and that existing Health Canada regulations already govern the use of promotional products.
Baker adds, “The companies I’ve spoken to don’t know what they will be able to say and how to say it. It’s going to be interesting to see how marketing for these companies rolls out. You’ll be communicating in a highly regulated market, so you need to sit down and ask a lot of detailed questions when devising a campaign. Be prepared to have multiple marketing campaigns, based on A, B and C eventualities, and expect two of them to go in the garbage.”
The Canadian Senate is going through a third reading of the bill this week. The country’s House of Commons will have to approve the Senate’s changes before it becomes law.