Health Canada’s rules for cannabis sponsorships are hypocritical and hurt music festivals

Some of Canada’s biggest licensed producers are getting into sponsorships in a big way and Health Canada is not happy about it at all.

On Jul. 13, the government released a statement saying:

The actions of some companies have underscored the need for the [marketing and advertising] prohibitions in the [Cannabis] Act and their rigorous enforcement.”

The government goes on to say that the advertising and sponsorships pose a threat to public health and safety while also encouraging minors to use cannabis, going on to warn that:

Those who do not adhere to the applicable prohibitions will face serious consequences, which may include if appropriate, suspension of their licence.”

But Health Canada’s position on cannabis sponsorships and marketing is extremely tenuous and open to attack because unlike tobacco and alcohol, cannabis has a real medicinal value that has been recognized across the world, with at least 30 countries having some form of legal medical cannabis program, Canada included.

Banning cannabis sponsorships hurts music festivals and other cultural events

It’s not only hypocritical to crack down so hard on cannabis sponsorships while allowing pharmaceuticals to be freely advertised and massive sponsorship deals with alcohol companies- it could also hurt cultural events throughout the country, especially music festivals.

Let’s take BC for example. The province has had high-profile music festivals like the Pemberton Music Festival and Squamish Valley Music Festival go under in recent years, and a lot of that had to do with the money.

One of the biggest hurdles for many Canadian music festivals is the fact that many of the bands and artists that are booked are American and get paid in American dollars. With the current exchange rate, that means festival organizers have to pay around 30% extra which no doubt takes a significant bite into the festival’s funds.

The extra money from cannabis companies could go a long way to keep festivals financially solvent and festivals are also huge boosts for the local economies as they draw huge numbers of tourists to the hosting communities.

“Music festivals are anxious to tap into that money,” said Neill Dixon, head of Canadian Music Week in Toronto, according to CTV News.

“Everybody is just being super cautious right now. They’re putting their toe in the water and edging their way in. There’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace and no clear delineation about what these companies can or can’t do.”

What about cannabis gardens?

Allowing cannabis sponsorships would go a long way in helping cash-strapped festivals stay afloat, but should cannabis lounges or spaces similar to beer gardens be allowed on festival grounds?

I think yes, because not only will cannabis be legal very soon, these cannabis gardens could even serve as a harm-reduction measure against all the problems that arise from getting too drunk- like increased aggression and alcohol poisoning, to name a few, and that’s not even mentioning the killing that the food trucks would make off of all the ravenous stoners with the munchies!

Because the laidback stoner and aggressive drunk are both well-known stereotypes of those respective drugs, and it’s not hard to imagine that a festival full of stoners would be safer than one where everyone is hammered.  

If Health Canada allowed cannabis gardens and cannabis to be sold at festivals, it would also help fight the black market and mean that concert-goers no longer have to resort to creative and extreme methods to smuggle their bud past security.

Licensed producers, festivals, and music 

  • Canopy Growth Corp. has sponsored Pride Toronto
  • Aurora Cannabis
  • Up Cannabis has partnered with The Tragically Hip and has gone as far as using “HIP” as its ticker on the stock market
  • Invictus MD signed KISS bassist Gene Simmons as a brand ambassador


CBC News: ‘It’s extreme’: Proposed legislation says pot producers can’t sponsor events, as some do now.

CTV News: Strain relations: Cannabis companies tread carefully at music festivals.

Government of Canada: Statement on event sponsorship and other promotional activities by federally licensed producers of cannabis.

Newsweek: Legal Marijuana Companies Sponsoring Events in Canada face Government Crackdown.