The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) – Ontario‘s only legal wholesaler and distributor of cannabis – is also in the propaganda business.

Their “Hazy on the Facts” campaign and its website,, is an attempt to raise awareness and promote responsible cannabis use.

But like “going clear” in Scientology, the OCS‘s website is more cultist ideology than a statement of facts.

Sprinkled in between common sense cannabis use are downright lies. Like how cannabis can cause schizophrenia and psychosis.

It’s rehashed reefer madness. It’s OCS propaganda, and Ontario‘s cannabis consumers and taxpayers are paying for it.

But Why?

OCS Propaganda
Dundas Square in Toronto

It makes sense for the canna-curious to have some information beforehand. The Government of Canada was already providing that. There’s also a thing called “Internet Search Engines,” which are a valuable resource.

But the OCS wants sole authority over cannabis information.

Dave Rewak, senior director of marketing and consumer insights at the OCS, wants to combat the “myth and disinformation” that has accompanied legalization.

The OCS’s propaganda reduces canna-curious adults to infantile status.

“They’ve cobbled together information from a number of online sources that will give them some picture, but not a full picture, of what they’re looking for,” said Rewak.

Somehow, the OCS knows what this “full picture” is. They’ve tapped into the minds of millions of the canna-curious and produced a “full picture” of the same reefer madness you can find online.

The OCS propaganda will “advertise” during sports events, and there are even billboards at Toronto’s Dundas Square.

“This is not an age-gated resource, it’s intended to have information for everyone,” said Rewak.

OCS Propaganda

OCS Propaganda

So what is the OCS propaganda look like? People with smoke clouds encircling their heads thinking, “Can cannabis affect my mental health?”

“It’s an analogy that’s very universal, this notion of clearing the fog or clearing the haze in decision making,” says Dave.

But for the cannabis connoisseur, it simply comes off as offensive. It reinforces the stereotype that stoners live in a THC haze, disconnected from reality.  

“Fact-based, unbiased, current,” is how the OCS signs off its TV ads. But let’s examine if that’s true.

Their website has four areas of study—legal use, cannabis and youth, health effects, and responsible use.

Let’s separate fact from fiction.

OCS Propaganda – Legal Use

This section is mostly factual. It just states the laws regarding possession, consumption, and driving. Also, how to recognize legal cannabis products, a guide to legal product labels, and other details of legalization in Ontario.

But under the page “The Importance of Trusting Your Source,” their bias shows.

For example, they cite a study conducted by the Ontario Provincial Police, and themselves, the OCS, as proof that illegal cannabis products are unsafe to consume.

They dispel the “myth” that CBD is harmless since it is, legally speaking, a controlled substance. But this kind of logic sends Japanese-Canadian citizens to internment camps. 

Just because something is legal doesn’t make it lawful.

Regulation would be better provided by our Anglo-American common law. Not bloated, wasteful, taxpayer-funded bureaucracies.

OCS Propaganda – Cannabis & Youth

No, those aren’t cannabis edibles. Just plain old, toxic sugar

This section of OCS propaganda has tips and tools to speak with your kids about cannabis. I’m not a parent, but I can’t imagine visiting a government website for parenting advice.

Nevertheless, if your kid says, “Cannabis is just a plant – it’s not harmful,” you’re supposed to respond with: not all plants are safe to consume.

Although, if your kid also hates eating vegetables, this may backfire. Since “healthy” plants like spinach or broccoli all produce defensive chemicals.

Suppose they say they only eat edibles, which is safer than smoking. In that case, you say: “Different cannabis products come with different potential harms and benefits.”

What harms, exactly? It’s not in this section. But like all things in life, there are no solutions, only trade-offs.

But the OCS propaganda is likely to do more harm than good. They repeat lies that a developing brain using cannabis will never fully recover from the “damage” cannabis has done.

They reinforce the idea of “cannabis use disorder,” where the substance becomes an all-powerful force that compels you to consume it.

And, of course, OCS propaganda wouldn’t be complete without suggesting that young people who consume cannabis risk developing mental health disorders.

And the “research” supports this. Research that claims to have found objective measurements in subjective states of mind. Studies that researchers haven’t been able to replicate.

OCS Propaganda – Health Effects

The OCS propaganda doesn’t get any better in this category. Right off the bat, there’s a plug for “cannabis use disorder,” a term we’ve debunked many times before. (It’s easy when sleep disruptions are considered symptoms of “high-risk use.”)

According to the OCS’s “fact-based” propaganda, you can identify cannabis addiction through the four C’s.

Craving the substance. What it really is: A subjective state of mind. You create cravings with your thoughts.

The compulsion to use it. Cannabis is a flower. Flowers can’t force you to do things against your will.

Loss of Control. No replicable, placebocontrolled research supports the notion that there is a “loss of control” with cannabis or any other substance. 

Use Despite Consequences. This is the only useful definition. But as mentioned above, there are no solutions. Only trade-offs. 

Some people will consume cannabis (or alcohol, tobacco, fast food, etc) despite adverse consequences. Why? Because they value it. And that value doesn’t have to be rational or healthy. 

We act based on our preferences. Not some mythical “disorder” that compels us to act.

Fortunately, the OCS propaganda doesn’t go as far as to suggest cannabis can kill you. So credit must be given where it’s due:

There have been no documented cases of death as the result of overconsumption of cannabis. The reason is this: There are no cannabinoid receptors in the part of your brain that regulates vital automatic functions like your heart beating and breathing, so an excess of cannabinoids like THC won’t affect them. In contrast, essential parts of the brain do contain opiate receptors, which is why opioid overdoses can cause death. The same goes for alcohol — it activates neurotransmitters in the brain that inhibit vital functions, potentially with a fatal outcome.

Of course, a few pages later, they write: “For individuals without a family history, regular cannabis use is still a risk factor for these [Psychosis; schizophrenia] disorders.”

So we’ll take what we can get.

OCS Propaganda – Responsible Use 

OCS Propaganda

The OCS propaganda for responsible use is as you’d expect. Basic, fact-based information on what happens when you eat or inhale cannabis.

But the more you dig into it, the more silliness you find. The OCS has a page on “harm reduction.” And although the term is widespread, especially in harder drug circles, it’s a nonsense term.

Would rotating your tires and checking your car’s oil be considered “harm reduction?” Why not? Driving a car is a risky activity. Essential maintenance should be regarded as “harm reduction,” no?

With that in mind, the OCS’s propaganda about “harm reduction” is just basic cannabis maintenance. Many of which we agree with.

  • If you’re new, start with low doses and go slow. 
  • Consider your time and place (i.e. Set and setting). 
  • Find the right product for you
  • Consider edibles or vaping
  • If you do smoke, they suggest shallow puffs. We recommend a water bong.
  • Take some tolerance breaks
  • Choose the original herb, not synthetic cannabis 
  • Don’t mix cannabis with alcohol or tobacco 
  • Don’t drive if you’re high (Have OCS bureaucrats driven in Ontario lately? Stoned drivers are not the problem)
  • Consider your health history (family history of psychosis, for example).

Why Was This Necessary?

While some may welcome an authoritative central hub for cannabis information, the Government of Canada already does this.

OCS propaganda has the same information but uses clip art and listicles. And we pay for it. Whether through Ontario taxes or purchasing from legal retailers forced to buy from the OCS.

Maybe instead of wasting time and money with cannabis propaganda, the OCS can work on their cyber security.