Concerts and cannabis don't mix, according to Health Canada. Yesterday, the federal department warned that it is prepared to crack down on any licensed medical marijuana producers who sponsor concerts.
The Canadian government has made it abundantly clear that it is not repealing prohibition to promote cannabis use. Lawmakers are legalizing cannabis because the old drug laws failed to achieve its two biggest goals: preventing the black market for marijuana from thriving and keeping cannabis away from kids. So legalization isn't intended to be an endorsement for recreational cannabis use. In fact, the feds are imposing strict advertising regulations to ensure that marijuana isn't marketed to minors.
So the idea of teens crowding music festivals sponsored by cannabis growers has drawn the ire of federal regulators.
"The department is reviewing the actions of existing licensed producers and will be taking every possible step to bring them into compliance or prevent non-compliance with existing laws," Health Canada said in a statement released on Friday. "Those who do not adhere to the applicable prohibitions will face serious consequences, which may include, if appropriate, suspension of their license."
Warnings like this will likely become common, according to Eileen McMahon - a partner at Torys LLP, which leads the drug and regulatory practice. McMahon believes that cannabis producers will try to push the bounds of what they can and can't do over the next few months as they try to make the public more aware of their brand before the new regulators take effect on October 17.
"This is an opportunity where companies say, 'What is legal and illegal under current law? What is gray and in the gray area? And can we play there in a way that's defensible?"' she told CTVNews. "Some companies will take some risks ... others won't. I think you see that activity taking place and the government's reaction."
While concerts are the focal point of the proposed crackdown, Health Canada could also punish licensed producers sponsoring any public event.