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Proposed pot packaging regs are 'ridiculously hypocritical': Consumer group


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#1 kya100

kya100

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 12:39 PM

 
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Soon you’ll be able to buy recreational weed in Canada, but the packaging sure won’t be very flashy if Health Canada has its way.
The federal agency last week proposed cannabis packaging and branding restrictions that would make pot packets awfully plain looking, limiting colour, depiction and brand.
The Consumer Choice Center (CCC), an advocacy group that represents consumers in over 100 countries, says the restrictions will only limit consumer knowledge, choice, and encourage the black market.
“The restrictions are ridiculously hypocritical when we realize that we don’t have those packaging and branding limitations on alcohol,” said David Clement, the CCC’s North American Affairs Manager.
“So this is the first sort of red flag for this proposal. If you look at cannabis being a legal product, there’s no reason why it should be more heavily restricted than alcohol. “
We caught up with Clement to talk not only about pot packaging but advertising regulations in the proposed Bill-C45.
 
Q. Is weed basically being treated like tobacco in terms of packaging?
 
A. There’s a few minor differences between Bill S-5, which is the plain packaging for tobacco legislation, and what Health Canada has proposed. But for the most part it’s a plain packaging bill.
 
Q. Why do you have a problem with plain packaging for cannabis?
 
A. Branding and marketing allows for companies to communicate the effects of a product. And we want consumers to make the most informed decisions when they’re purchasing legal cannabis because there can be consequences if you are not making informed decisions. Imagine going into a LCBO in Ontario and not properly understanding the difference between Johnnie Walker scotch and spiced rum?
 
Q. How does this plain packaging encourage the black market?
 
A. When we standardize the branding and the physical packaging, it’s easy for criminals to basically create that on their own.
 
Q. Do you think Health Canada is being overly cautious?
 
A. I think Health Canada is still very much stuck in the prohibition mentality. I think they fail to realize the biggest reason for legalization is that marijuana should have never been illegal in the first place.
 
Q. Do we know what the limits are going to be on pot advertising?
 
A. (Companies) are not going to be allowed to depict persons. They’re not allowed to have testimonials or endorsements. There’s a stipulation that there can’t be a marketing campaign towards children, which is of course totally appropriate. But included in that is a stipulation that they can’t include animals in terms of branding or like mascots or things like that. It’s still unclear because it’s not very in-depth the way that it’s written. They’re not allowed to do things like even sponsorship.
 
Q. Do you also have a problem with that?
 
A. Unless it changes, it could possibly change, it proposes regulations that are far more strict than how we treat alcohol. So an example would be if you go to a concert in Toronto, most of the time it’s at the now Budweiser Stage, or former Molson Amphitheatre, that would be illegal for cannabis brands to have the same type or sponsorship or a festival, which there are plenty of, that are sponsored by breweries. And so we will have these two legal products, both of which are age prohibited in terms of when you can purchase it, but they are going to be treated substantially differently.
 

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