Canada’s Licensed Producers Release Their Advertising Wish List

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A coalition of Canada’s licensed producers (LPs) that represent approximately 90 percent of the legal Canadian marijuana-growing industry released their recommendations Wednesday on how they would like to see cannabis advertising take shape in the Great White North.

Bill C-45 has been speeding its way through the Parliamentary process since being introduced in April and Canada’s LPs have largely shown support and approval for the legislation with one caveat.

The fly-in-the-cannabis-extract for these marijuana mega-farms is the stipulation in Bill C-45 which demands plain packaging and no advertising for cannabis products.

The LPs have argued a ban on packaging will hinder their ability to differentiate between one another. More importantly, plain packaging could make it difficult for consumers to tell the difference between a legal and illegal product.

With those concerns in mind, Canada’s licensed producers came together months ago in a rare display of unity. This unlikely collaboration was designed to create a set of proposed advertising rules for cannabis companies to follow that represent a compromise between the government’s desire for limited influence in cannabis consumption and a private retailer’s desire for brand identification.

The group, dubbed the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Branding, worked closely with Advertising Standards Canada to develop their proposed guidelines.

Some of the rules in the document include promoting brand preference so consumers can enjoy products from specific manufacturers they prefer, but still stopping short of influencing nonconsumers to try cannabis.

LPs wouldn’t direct their marketing efforts to anyone under the minimum age requirement to purchase cannabis in a specific province. As well, all advertising and branding messages would contain statements about the responsible use of marijuana.

If an LP is unsure of any specific branding initiatives they want to execute, they are invited to submit proposed branding campaigns to Advertising Standards Canada for guidance.

All proposed branding will be adult-focused and able to explain to consumers why a particular product is better and safer than what is offered in the unlicensed market.

“Working collaboratively with industry and Ad Standards we’ve developed common sense recommendations,” said Jeff Ryan, co-chair of the coalition. “Industry recognizes and shares the government’s objectives of reducing the prevalence of the illicit market and keeping cannabis out of the hands of Canada’s youth.”

The media release also pointed out the proposed guidelines are stricter than alcohol regulations. Specifically, cannabis brands would have a restriction to advertise only in media where more than 70 percent of the audience is over the age of 18. Further, all advertising would have mandatory responsible use statements and adhere to the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards. A copy of the proposed branding and advertising guidelines can be found here.

The regulations released by the coalition have yet to be considered or endorsed by the federal government.

About Author

Jonathan Hiltz has been a journalist, a TV producer and marijuana advocate for over sixteen years. He has a wife, two young children and lives in the Toronto area.

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