A coalition of licensed cannabis producers in Canada is calling on government officials to reconsider – and relax – the strict advertising guidelines recommended by the country’s cannabis task force.

Along with the Canadian Medical Cannabis Council and the Cannabis Canada Association, the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Branding has released a set of proposed guidelines aimed at giving licensed producers an edge in competing with the black market.

The Coalition – comprised of 17 Canadian LPs – worked closely with Advertising Standards Canada to develop the guidelines. They were shared with senior officials in the federal government, including Health Canada’s Secretariat for Cannabis Legalization and Regulation and the Office of Medical Cannabis.

"We're committed to building a competitive legal cannabis sector and working with federal, provincial and territorial governments as a long-term partner," Coalition co-chair Cameron Bishop said in a press release.

"If adopted by the federal government, we believe these guidelines will help ensure that the legal industry can effectively compete against the illicit market."

The group’s recommended guidelines would apply to the marketing and advertising of legalized cannabis products, accessories and services permitted for sale under Bill C-45 (AKA The Cannabis Act.)

The Coalition outlines five guiding principles for their proposal:

  1. Marketing by LPs will only promote brand preference, and will not attempt to influence adult non-consumers of psychoactive cannabis products to become consumers.
  2. Marketing by LPs will not be directed to persons under 18 years of age or under a province's or territory's designated legal age for purchase.
  3. All advertising messages will contain responsible use statements.
  4. To facilitate compliance with these Guidelines, LPs may voluntarily opt to submit their advertising messages to Ad Standards for preclearance prior to dissemination.
  5. LPs agree to adhere to the provisions of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards.

Under the Coalition’s proposed guidelines, LPs would also be allowed to explain to prospective customers why the products they develop are better and safer than those offered by the black market. 

"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. These recommendations strike a balance that can achieve both of those objectives," says Coalition co-chair Jeff Ryan in the press release.

The Coalition’s proposed guidelines are stricter than alcohol regulations in three areas: a restriction to advertising only in media where more than 70 per cent of the audience is over 18; the mandatory addition of responsible use statements; and the adherence to the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards.