Conservatives in the Senate are continuing their misguided assault on the Cannabis Act and this time they were successful in passing an amendment that would ban branded merchandise from cannabis companies.
That means no branded t-shirts, hats, and pens, among many other things, which will make the swag bags at cannabis expos and trade shows a lot more boring thanks to the Conservative buzzkills in the Senate.
The amendment passed by a vote of 34:28 with one abstention according to a tweet from the Senate of Canada’s official Twitter account.
Conservative Senator Judith Seidman explained the reasoning behind the amendment on social media:
See my amendment that succeeded today @SenateCA Third Reading #C45: If you truly want a public health approach then you must prohibit cannabis brand logos on t-shirts, caps, back packs, and other non cannabis items that will undoubtedly appeal to kids. #cdnpoli
— Sen. Judith Seidman (@JudithSeidman) June 1, 2018
Which is just more of the same “think of the children” fearmongering from the Conservatives, but are you surprised?
A virtual ban on all cannabis promotion and marketing
There are already strict rules in place for cannabis advertising and marketing in Bill C-45, and this recent amendment takes it one step closer to banning any kind of cannabis promotion altogether, as Sen. Seidman said herself as she pats herself on the back for closing this “loophole”.
#C45 itself bans virtually all promotion/marketing of marijuana with ONE exception that allows companies to brand items NOT related to cannabis. My amendment removes that exception. Safer for our kids! https://t.co/MjN6b9U6oH
— Sen. Judith Seidman (@JudithSeidman) June 3, 2018
Funny that she links to an article mocking her amendment, and you don’t have to go far to find people calling it out, such as prominent cannabis lawyer Kirk Tousaw.
Independent Sen. Tony Dean, who also opposed the amendment, told iPolitics:
“We’re talking about the extreme edges of branding here and I think it’s a step too far,”
The hypocrisy of Senate Conservatives!
There is an obvious double standard here when it comes to alcohol versus cannabis. It’s common to get a free hat, t-shirt, or shotglass with your case of beer or bottle of liquor. Not to mention all of the alcohol and pharmaceutical commercials you can see on TV and billboards, which was duly pointed out on social media by people like cannabis entrepreneur and writer Alice Moon.
What about all the pill commercials I see? Alcohol billboards? It’s not fair to ban logos of a plant if you’re going to allow advertising for poison.
— Alice Moon (@thealicemoon) June 3, 2018
Sen. Seidman responded back with:
In Canada direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs is generally prohibited under Canada’s Food and Drugs Regulation. No commercials! 2014 “Vanessa’s Law” in Canada even increased fines for transgressions. American law is not the same. #cdnpoli https://t.co/RzzLHqJefj
— Sen. Judith Seidman (@JudithSeidman) June 3, 2018
While Sen. Seidman is right that Canadian and U.S. laws are not the same (obviously!), she fails to mention that 2014’s “Vanessa’s Law” only increased fines because Health Canada was coming under fire for a failure to enforce its own advertising laws regarding prescription drugs.
Previously, the maximum fine for violators was $5,000, which is chump change for the billion dollar pharmaceutical companies ignoring the rules, so Vanessa’s Law increased the maximum fine to $500,000 in a bid to give Health Canada “more teeth” and make it worth it to actually take violators to court.
Sen. Seidman also does not to mention the multiple loopholes that allow for drug ads that mention a drug’s name but not its use (like Viagra), or ads that mention a medical condition for “help-seeking” purposes that doesn’t mention a company or product, according to CBC.
But will it work?
Banning these items would only add even more to cannabis’ novelty and intrigue of cannabis to under-aged kids- call it Forbidden Fruit (or plant) syndrome- because prohibitionist and abstinence-only methods never work.
That’s one of the reasons why experts think that the USA has a drinking culture that emphasizes overconsumption, sometimes with deadly results. America has one of the highest minimum legal drinking ages in the world at 21, and yet, it has one of the world’s highest rates of binge drinking, with the most problematic binge drinkers being those under 21, according to Mic.
Compare that to Europe, where the drinking age is commonly 18, with some countries allowing 16 year-olds to purchase beer and wine. Although Europeans do drink, their drinking culture tends to be one focused more on moderation, meaning they drink socially, not to get drunk as many Americans do.
Kids are naturally curious, and if you say they can’t or aren’t allowed to do something, that will only pique their curiosity even more, which reminds me of the time when Police Chief Wiggum asked his kid, “What is your fascination with my forbidden closet of mystery?!”
This is far from over…
Will it be an existing LP, a new participant or an industry group that files the inevitable Charter s. 2 lawsuit against the marketing and #cannabisswag rules? Because that’s where this is headed. Clear free speech violation so it’s basically a s. 1 override argument.
— KirkTousaw (@KirkTousaw) June 2, 2018
Featured image courtesy of Tweed.