Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for a month, you’re aware that cannabis is now legal in Canada. Marketing and communications professionals are fascinated to see how the promotional aspect of a new, but highly regulated, industry rolls out.
Ironically, the burgeoning industry was working with looser regulation before Pot Legalization Day on October 17th, 2018. On that day a whole new regime came into play, which in many ways ties marketers’ hands. Thankfully, the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) has just released a free guide to help Canadian marketers comply with the new federal legislation.
The guide reviews marketing practices that are permitted by new federal legislation. It covers those that are prohibited, and those where caution should be exercised because the legislation is unclear. The guide is relevant not only for front-line marketers in the cannabis sector, but also for their suppliers. It covers activities such as signage and billboards, packaging and the sale of swag. It details how marketing to young people and lifestyle ads are prohibited.
“Marketing restrictions on cannabis will be similar, but not identical, to tobacco restrictions,” said Chris Bolivar, member of the CMA’s Working Group on Cannabis and vice president, brand and marketing, Fire and Flower. “A fair bit of confusion exists, not only for cannabis companies, but also for suppliers to the industry. From billboards and packaging to the sale of promotional items, the guide helps clarify the rules.”
“It is important for marketers within cannabis companies and their suppliers and partners to understand their obligations,” added Rick Moscone, partner, Fogler, Rubinoff LLP, and also a member of the working group. “Companies that adhere to regulations and best practices avoid the risk of penalties and strengthen their brand reputation.”
The new Canadian legislation permits the use of recreational cannabis by adults. Provinces and territories are responsible for regulating the distribution and sale of cannabis in their jurisdictions. They set age restrictions and provide online stores, government-run retail outlets and private stores.