Article by Scott Wheeler, The Waterloo Region Record
Cam Battley is a father to a Grade 9 son and 10-year-old daughter. He’s a scout leader of nine years and a soccer coach to both of his kids. He’s also the executive vice-president of one of Canada’s largest marijuana distributors.
As Canada prepares for the legalization of marijuana, he and others in the pot industry have something they want you to know: they aren’t interested in selling to your children.
“I don’t want underaged kids using cannabis any more than I want them using alcohol or prescription drugs,” said Battley, who runs the marijuana company Aurora.
In fact, Canada’s pot industry says it is trying to get marijuana out of the hands of youth, who use its underground market more than any other industrialized country.
Distributors have called on the federal government, which is firm on its deadline to legalize marijuana by July 2018, to heavily regulate recreational marijuana advertising.
Some have requested prohibition on celebrity brand ambassadors who lure and entice youth into using their products. Others have asked for stringent controls on the online marketing world. Some have pushed for mandatory approval of all recreational marijuana marketing by Canada’s Advertising Standards Council. Yet others have called for bans on popular infused products that could appeal to young people, such as gummies.
“We are very, very comfortable with having a very regimented — with enforcement — set of rules that govern advertising,” said Vic Neufeld, the CEO of Aphria, a marijuana distributor. “As descript and as very tightly wound as those regs are going to be, that’s good with Aphria.”
He wants serious punishment for companies that market marijuana to Canada’s youth.
“You really, really need to have enforcement. I don’t want to call them bloodhounds, but they (the government) need to be on top of this,” Neufeld added. “Where there’s commerce, there’s going to be some very sharp marketers.”
Ian Culbert, executive director with the Canadian Public Health Association, said their preference is for a complete ban on marketing, something he acknowledged might not withstand a Supreme Court challenge.