Medical Cannabis Advertising Restrictions In Canada Will Hurt Industry and Patients


Chances are if you watch television, or read magazines, or browse major media websites, you will see advertising for pharmaceutical products. We have all seen the pharmaceutical commercial where the portion of the TV advertisement describing the side effects of the product is longer than the description of the benefits of the product. Such advertising is commonplace, and no one bats an eye. However, in Canada, medical cannabis advertising is so frowned upon that it is essentially going to be banned in the near future. Per Vice:

In a few weeks, Canadian cannabis patients will find it harder than ever to get information about their medicine.

Last month, Health Canada (the federal government’s public health agency) sent a letter to 16 licensed pot producers saying they can’t display photos of plants on their sites, tweet links to articles about the benefits of marijuana, or tell clients what a certain strain tastes, smells, or feels like.

All of that information is advertising, according to the government, and it’s illegal to promote the sale of a narcotic like “marihuana.”

The ban on medical cannabis advertising in Canada is ludicrous. Of course, there can be common sense restrictions that everyone can agree upon as no one is advocating that medical marijuana be marketed to children. However, it doesn’t make sense to ban the advertising of one medicine, when other substances that are more lethal, are allowed to advertise Pharmaceutical drug overdoses kill many people every year in Canada, but cannabis has never caused a fatal overdose, in Canada or anywhere.

Many pharmaceutical commercials contain disclaimers about the deadly side effects that you wonder if you are listening to a Saturday Night Live skit. Alcohol and tobacco are more addictive and dangerous substances and are allowed to advertise, with certain restrictions. So why is medical cannabis being singled out? This ban will hurt patients, in addition to the industry, and that’s unacceptable. Hopefully, common sense rules and regulations will prevail over such Reefer Madness restrictions. 

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.