It’s been a long time coming but weed will officially be legalized in Canada on October 17, 2018. Ever since the Liberal government started moving on this particular campaign promise, numerous groups have voiced dissent at every turn. Packaging, branding, retailing, policing, educating — you name it, there are six different opinions on it and everyone needs to weigh in. Now we’re less than three months away from legalization and people are still arguing.
The latest upset is surrounding the federal government’s rule that retailers cannot “glamourize” marijuana use in order to market their product. The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) — the Crown-run entity that will be dispensing marijuana in the province — is being called out by psychologist and Dalhousie University professor Dr. Simon Sherry for their store organization.
— Y95 – CJLS (@CJLSRadio) August 8, 2018
Strict federal rules mean NSLC won’t run cannabis ads or promotions – “You’re not allowed to do any advertising or any promotions (of cannabis), so we won’t be doing any of that,” said #NSLC spokesperson Beverley Ware https://t.co/AXPvIb4itA#CannabisControlAct #NovaScotia pic.twitter.com/nmsocOuYu4
— jadeo.co (@WeAreJadeo) August 2, 2018
The store is sleek and modern and classifies its product under four categories — Relax, Unwind, Centre and Enhance — based on what kind of experience the customer is looking for. The doctor is saying that using those words “glamorizes and normalizes” pot in a way that is prohibited by the Federal Cannabis Act.
“They’re making it appealing, and they’re making it attractive,” Sherry said in a statement, “When cannabis gets glamourized and normalized, more and more people start to use it, so more and more Nova Scotians are going to be encountering the risks and the harms associated with cannabis use.”
Sherry is also concerned about the fact that marijuana will be sold in the same place as liquor in the province calling it a “public health risk.” He says that many doctors agree cannabis and alcohol should not be sold under the same roof for several reasons. For one thing, they don’t want to encourage mixing the two drugs because side-effects can be dangerous and for another, customers looking for marijuana might want to avoid alcohol altogether for addiction reasons.
When the federal government created the Cannabis Act, they gave regulation and distribution responsibilities to the individual provinces. Many of them (including Nova Scotia and Ontario) have opted to add marijuana sales to the liquor retail and regulation systems already in place.
As far as advertising goes, the NSLC doesn’t see a problem with their promotion. The categories are to inform and educate consumers so they can purchase the product that will work best for them, not necessarily to entice them to buy.
“What we are doing here, in a very subtle way, is educating our consumers to the fact that this particular strain would create a different type of experience than another strain,” NSLC senior vice-president David DiPersio told The Canadian Press, “We feel it would have been a disservice and frankly a bit dangerous to our consumers if we weren’t able to actually explain what experience could result from the usage of a particular strain of cannabis.”
Many Canadians have given this latest branding criticism a big ol’ eye-roll. Like when Health Canada came out with their aggressively minimalist and warning-heavy packaging suggestions, people are questioning if the whole “no marketing” thing is actually going to discourage anyone. Commenters also pointed out that we actually glamourize alcohol and people are mostly perfectly fine with it.
Man I don’t even know and don’t care. Weed is weed to me. 👌 👏
— Nikkii (@nikkiistewart90) August 7, 2018
Since they advertise alcohol as good times, social, classy, etc….never mentioning you might become violent, make very poor choices, turn into an a**hole or become an alcoholic, then just adding “please consume responsibly” should be enough.
— Amanda Porter (@AmandaorSammy) August 8, 2018
They’ve been glamorizing alcohol for a long time now.
— Brian (@awayfromnorth) August 7, 2018
So it’s a big no-no with weed but totally fine with alcohol. Got it.
— Tolito Johnson (@TolitoJ) August 8, 2018
Sherry has written to Health Canada Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor about his concerns regarding the NSLC and is awaiting a response.