Marketing & Branding Cannabis 


The question of whether the Canadian government will regulate the marketing of legal marijuana is a question of what the marketing and branding look like and how it compares to two other age-restricted substances: tobacco and liquor.

For Canadian tobacco products, warning labels must follow certain criteria:

  • Health warnings must cover 75% of the front and 75% of the back of the package (one side English, the other in French).
  • Another warning message on the inside of each package, or on an insert.
  • Emission numbers for tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, and benzene.
  • The terms “light” and “mild” are prohibited.
  • Because the Liberal government promised to legalize and regulate the marijuana market in Canada by spring 2017, there are now many public health advocates watching and commenting on how the marketing and branding side will be done. Will it follow with the more highly-regulated tobacco products or, the more readily advertised liquor, a product that is regulated province-by-province.

Right now, no advertisements or marketing is allowed for such products, and so far the only legal marijuana is the medical kind provided by licensed producers. Canada’s cannabis task force recommends plain packaging (the company name, strain name, price, amounts of psychoactive ingredients and warnings) but licensed producers are coming back saying that cannabis is less dangerous than tobacco and marketing are necessary to bring black market consumers over to the legal stuff. Companies, like Tweed and Aphria, have already started assembling in-house marketing teams.

Millions of Canadians already purchase cannabis and what the federal government is trying to switch patients from the unregulated black market to a market that is regulated. Representative Jared Polis of Colorado, a long-time cannabis advocate just reintroduced a bill in the U.S., called the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, and some Canadians feel we should do the same thing here; treat pot like liquor with strict regulations concerning marketing and advertising.

A ban on branding and advertising could create a more level playing field between large licensed producers and smaller “craft” growers, but that could make the federal government look like hypocrites if they allow the marketing of liquor but not cannabis.

May 10, 2017

by Alana Armstrong

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Alana Armstrong writes about cannabis, marijuana, pot, weed, and whatever else you might call it. As a newly-minted ACMPR patient, she gained first-hand experience of the amazing benefits cannabis; now she is a passionate advocate for legalization and entrepreneurship. While she stills continues to hypothesize about why the collaboration between Vanessa Beecroft and Kanye matters, her mission is now re-focused on the Green Rush in Canada and the US


  • JC

    If alcohol can advertise I believe cannabis should have the equal right to do so.

    • Brad Chown

      I agree with you JC! Alcohol is so much worse for you and they are allowed to advertise everywhere. They deserve equal rights in order to spread the benefits of Cannabis

  • Gina Vermillion Boulanger

    Marketing and branding for cannabis is very tricky right now because laws vary from state to state. Once it is either rescheduled or descheduled (one can hope!), we will have federal guidelines and regulations just like we have for alcohol and tobacco.
    Great explanation and fantastic read!

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