When it comes to advertising in the alcohol industry, Canadian law imposes some pretty tight restrictions. Companies that sling booze for profit are not allowed to suggest in their marketing campaigns that people may be on a mission to get drunk, nor are they permitted to show sports figures or other celebrities grinding away at a bottle of liquor.
It is for this reason that the business of beer, wine and spirits is calling for the Canadian government to impose similar rules on the nation’s cannabis trade, reports the Globe & Mail.
“As an industry, we’ve talked to various officials, provincially and federally, about the rationale for certain rules regarding beverage alcohol and how they’re probably applicable to marijuana, whether around labeling or celebrity endorsements,” said Andrew Oland, president and CEO of Moosehead Breweries Limited.
Oland, who also serves on the board of the industry association Beer Canada went on to say that, “Things that are not permissible in beverage alcohol shouldn’t be permissible in marijuana.”
It is worth mentioning that Beer Canada was one of the consultants responsible for assisting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s marijuana task force in devising a list of recommendations for legal weed. But so far, no one has any idea what kinds of recommendations the trade group brought to the table. Similar organizations, like Spirits Canada, said the primary scope of its suggestions included regulations pertaining to the types of labeling that should be allowed for cannabis manufactures.
“If you’re going to introduce another drug into the marketplace, why would you not subject that to exactly the same kinds of things that have proven to be effective in beverage alcohol?” said Jan Westcott, president and CEO of Spirits Canada. “Certainly, the advertising and marketing rules are there for a reason.”
In addition to fair regulations in respect to advertising, the alcohol industry is also pushing for a number of other rules that they feel would be beneficial for those folks selling pot. One proposal is a program similar to Smart Serve, which trains bar and restaurant staff how to serve alcohol responsibly. Members of the booze sector also want to see retail cannabis products taxed at a rate “no less than” alcoholic beverages.
The goal is to ensure both booze and marijuana have the same advantage when the two inebriants start competing for market share.
However, it may not exactly be a fair fight.
The alcohol industry is calling for marijuana to be banned in all public places—restaurants, bars, sporting events, etc.—all hot spots where the sale of beer and liquor drinks (try reading that without hearing Randy from Trailer Park Boys) has become as much of an institution as the food that is served.
Still, experts say legal pot should not be too concerned.
Earlier last week, a new Deloitte study found that Canada’s legal cannabis market will likely cut into the profits of the alcohol sector.
“If marijuana is legalized in Canada, we will see a decrease in purchases of beer, wine or spirits. So that’s something that the alcohol industry is going to have to understand and think about and try to anticipate what that means,” researcher Mark Whitmore told CBC News.
The study found that most pot consumers (80 percent) do not drink alcohol at the same time they consume marijuana, suggesting that some people might move on exclusively to smoking weed.
In the United States, where recreational pot is only legally available in four states, sales of domestic beer have fallen by more than four percent; a situation the study authors believe is destined to happen in Canada, only with more impact, once the country launches its retail pot market next year.
But as the Globe & Mail pointed out in its report, the marijuana industry still has a lot of work to do before the Canadian consumers give them their full attention.
A report published last week by Environics Communications finds that only 13 percent of the northern nation believes the cannabis industry can be trusted—ranking at the bottom of all sectors, just below social media, real estate and the pharmaceutical companies.