Canadian Senate Votes to Ban Cannabis Merch
Jun 8, 2018
Canadian cannabis consumers looking to sport their favorite producer’s name on branded merchandise might be out of luck.
The Canadian Senate voted on June 1 to change the Liberal government’s current legislation bill so that cannabis producers can’t use promotional products to advertise their wares -- what the Senate calls “brand-stretching.”
The amendment, originally proposed by the Non-Smoker’s Rights Association, was put forward by Conservative Sen. Judith Seidman in an effort to remove portions of Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, that would allow marijuana companies to advertise using items such as T-shirts, hats, phone cases and more.
Seidman called on the Senate to close a “loophole” that allowed for this “stealth” marketing, adding that restrictions on advertising would “reduce the likelihood of an ongoing conflict” between the government and an industry that’s likely to “aggressively” promote its products.
“To think that these products won’t develop a cachet among teenagers is delusional,” Seidman told the Senate. “We’ve seen this story before with tobacco.” She added, “We are all too familiar with the marketing techniques used by alcohol and tobacco companies to maximize consumption of their products — and consequently their profits.”
Independent Sen. Tony Dean, the sponsor of the bill, had opposed the no-swag amendment, arguing that the bill already contained enough promotion and marketing restrictions. Other senators voiced concern that the amendment would be an unnecessary curtailment of commercial expression.
The amendment was one of 40 that the Senate voted on last week, including a THC potency cap and a country-wide ban on home cultivation. C-45 is expected to come to a final reading in the Senate on June 7. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has doubled down on his government’s legalization timeline in recent weeks, though some government and Indigenous leaders have asked for a delay for up to a year in order to be better prepared. Given the current variables, the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada – and potential restrictions on advertising it – remain an open question.
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