As we inch closer to legal recreational cannabis in Canada, the nation’s marijuana legislation is becoming more clear … and more strict. When recreational cannabis hits the shelves in September, Canadian law will prohibit celebrities from endorsing cannabis. Here’s what the administration cleared up about legalization this weekend.
Celebrities Cannot Endorse Cannabis
The law is pretty firm on that. Member of Parliament Bill Blair, a force behind Canada’s legislation, told The West Block, “The law is explicit and clear, that celebrity endorsement, lifestyle advertising is not allowed with cannabis.”
Instead of mirroring alcohol legislation, the government aims to avoid leniency with marijuana laws. Former Toronto Police Chief Mr. Blair continued, “It’s not the government’s intention to promote the use of this drug … We are not allowing the heavy marketing that we’ve seen with other products, alcohol for example, and so there will be severe restrictions on things like celebrity endorsement and [company] sponsorship.”
In provinces where the government controls all liquor sales, it will also sell all legal marijuana. This means that advertising marijuana would be government promotion of its own product.
Is This Hypocrisy?
If Canadian law will prohibit celebrities from endorsing cannabis, shouldn’t alcohol legislation do the same? Many critics of Canadian cannabis legislation say that it discriminates against a substance that, by its own definition, will be legal.
The Canadian advocacy group Consumer Choice Center has vocally criticized Canada’s packaging laws. Not only do they restrict celebrity and lifestyle endorsements, but they limit necessary brand information. Since all packaging will appear the same, consumers won’t be able to distinguish between brands, which often contain important product information. Some products aim to relieve pain, put you to sleep, assuage PMS cramps … you won’t necessarily know which is which with these packaging laws.
Additionally, one of the main purposes of brand logos, mascots and endorsements are giving a product credibility. With these packaging laws, it will be easy for illegal weed to make its way into the market.
David Clement of Consumer Choice Center explains, “All a criminal needs to do to pass off their product is to replicate this simple branding.”
Canadian law will prohibit celebrities from endorsing cannabis, brands from designing mascots and, potentially, customers from distinguishing between types of marijuana and legal versus illegal product.
Celebrities Have Already Begun Licensing Deals
This is bad news for Canadian celebrities and franchises looking to capitalize on recreational marijuana. Bans like The Tragically Hip and Canadian phenomenon Trailer Park Boys have been working to promote recreational marijuana. Some members of The Tragically Hip are connected to Up Cannabis, creatively and financially. The Trailer Park Boys have also teamed up with OrganiGram.
Certainly, big names like these will circumvent Canada’s cannabis branding laws.
Legal Weed Won’t Be Legal Without Royal Assent
Another aspect of marijuana legislation that came to light in Blair’s interview with The West Block was royal assent. This is the last step of creating legislation in Canada after both Houses pass a law. Blair and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau want cannabis legislation to receive royal assent as soon as possible, though there isn’t a fixed deadline for this legal formality.
This could slow down legalization even more. Mr. Blair told the press, “I think Canadians can anticipate within [a] two-month window of royal assent, the government of Canada will establish and announce a date of implementation.”
Final Hit: Canadian Law Will Prohibit Celebrities From Endorsing Cannabis
This is just one of many legal developments that have some criticizing cannabis legislation for being too harsh. Recently, Nova Scotia gave landlords the authority to ban weed. The province is also issuing steep penalties for driving high and selling illegal weed. Towns like Hamstead and Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, are looking to ban public cannabis consumption.
For now, national cannabis legislation is no exception when it comes to harsh cannabis laws. Blair anticipates that this may not always be the case for cannabis.
“I think you can be very strict,” Blair says, “and with experience, and time, if you find that you can ease up or perhaps alter your approach, that’s something that can be done.”