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Some Canadian Newspapers Cancel School Deliveries Due to Cannabis Advertising

Postmedia Network Inc. canceled the deliveries in an effort to comply with Canada’s strict guidelines on cannabis advertising.

A.J. Herrington

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Some Canadian Newspapers Cancel School Deliveries Due to Cannabis Advertising
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A major Canadian news company has canceled deliveries of newspapers to elementary and high schools for use in educational programs. The move by Postmedia Network Inc. is an effort to comply with strict cannabis advertising statutes enacted last month with the legalization of recreational cannabis in the country. The media company represents more than 140 brands across media platforms including print, mobile, and online. The firm’s flagship newspapers include the Toronto Sun, the Montreal Gazette, and the National Post.

Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, went into effect on October 17, legalizing the recreational use and sale of cannabis in Canada. One of the stated purposes of the measure is to “protect young persons and others from inducements to use cannabis.”

To help achieve that goal, Bill C-45 prohibits advertising and promotions that could appeal to people under the legal age for cannabis use. Postmedia said in a statement to the CBC that because of those rules, the company would no longer be sending print editions of its newspapers to elementary and high schools for students to use in the Newspapers in Education program. The last edition of newspapers for the program was delivered to schools on October 31, according to the company.

“We deeply regret that this precludes us from delivering print editions to elementary and high schools. We see tremendous value in supporting schools with this program and we are exploring ways to reintroduce the program that comply with the Cannabis Act,” the statement reads.

Newspapers in Education is a program that promotes the use of newspapers as an educational tool and had been providing print editions of newspapers to schools at little or no cost. The Postmedia statement explained that the company also has online versions of the newspapers that are appropriate for use in by students the educational program.

Digital Alternative Available

“We currently offer an electronic edition which is an exact replica of the print edition with cannabis ads digitally removed – as part of the Newspapers in Education program,” the statement explained.

Phyllise Gelfand, a Postmedia spokeswoman, said that the company is reviewing the provisions of Bill C-45 to determine if the deliveries will be allowed to continue at a later date.

“This is a rapidly evolving area and we plan to stay appraised of applicable guidelines in order to ascertain whether the program can be reinstated,” said Gelfand.

Gelfand also noted that Postmedia is working on a solution in hope that the Newspapers in Education program will be able to resume offering print editions of its papers to schools.

“We will continue to revisit the issue and may be in a position to reinstate the print NIE program to elementary and high schools,” she added.

Advertising Rules Spur Creative Promotions

Besides prohibiting ads that may appeal to young people, the rules governing cannabis advertising in Canada include a ban on testimonials, celebrity endorsements, brand mascots, and glamorous images. With so many common promotional strategies off limits, cannabis companies are resorting to creative advertising campaigns. To celebrate the legalization of cannabis on October 17, one marijuana delivery service ran a campaign giving out free munchies. Four lucky winners also received a special Willy Wonka-esque green ticket admitting them to a tour of a cannabis cultivation facility.

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