Article by David Brown, Lift News
Advertising medical cannabis in Canada can be a challenge.
One ad series running on a Canadian cable station, Joytv, has some marketing professionals in the cannabis industry scratching their heads, and is highlighting some of the challenges for cannabis producers, regulators and even media companies in navigating a confusing mix of rules for how medical cannabis can be advertised or promoted in Canada.
The commercials, which advertise the benefits of medical cannabis through testimonials, direct viewers back to a website for Weeds Glass and Gifts. Weeds Glass and Gifts is a dispensary chain with numerous bricks and mortar locations in Canada, as well as an online dispensary. The ad points viewers to ‘learn more’ at weedsglassandgifts.com, where they are met with an ‘easy’ 3-step online registration form to order cannabis directly from the website.
One example of the ad running on Joytv 10 during the Simpsons on Rogers 173 in New Brunswick was sent in by a viewer.
Such ads, say some who work in marketing for licensed producers regulated by Health Canada, aren’t allowed, not only because they are advertising an illicit business, but because the ads make unproven health claims that Health Canada specifically disallows.
Canada’s medical cannabis program, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), as well as the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and the Narcotic Control Regulations (NCR), define “advertisement” to include “any representation by any means whatever for the purpose of promoting directly or indirectly the sale or disposal of a drug (in the case of the FDA) or a narcotic (with respect to the NCR).”
Both the FDA and the NCR, notes Health Canada, contain general prohibitions against the advertising of cannabis that licensed producers must follow, including making unproven health claims.
If a licensed producer is found to be in contravention of the advertising prohibitions in the FDA, they could be subject to prosecution, and if convicted would be liable to fines ranging from $250,000 to $5,000,000, or to a term of imprisonment ranging from six months to two years, or to both (s.31.2 FDA).