Last Friday's Leaflet newsletter quoted Canadian Convenience Stores Association president Satinder Chera as saying the government had told him its new rules on selling cannabis accessories (rolling papers, pipes, bongs, vaporizers and the like) won't impact non-cannabis retailers who sell those products. That report drew objections from a few experts on Canada's cannabis regulations, who insisted that couldn't be the case.
We asked Health Canada to clarify.
A spokesperson explained that the Cannabis Act's restrictions on cannabis accessories "will apply to any person selling or promoting these products — not just those licensed to sell cannabis."
Health Canada cited a few examples: When it comes into force on Oct. 17, the spokesperson said, the law will prevent anyone selling cannabis accessories from displaying those accessories — or even the packaging — in a way that could be visible to anyone under the age of 18.
Retailers will also be prohibited from selling weed accoutrements to anyone younger than 18.
"Self-serve displays" and vending machines will also be banned, meaning "cannabis accessories may only be sold 'behind the counter,'" wrote a Health Canada spokesperson.
Clearly, these rules could have a significant impact on cannabis-accessory retailers such as convenience stores. On top of that, there will be a series of restrictions on exactly how cannabis accessories can be promoted.
For example, testimonials and endorsements will be banned, as will anything that associates an accessory "with a particular way of life (such as one that includes glamour, recreation, risk, excitement, or daring behaviours) or a positive or negative emotion." (So don't expect advertisements featuring, say, a skydiver inhaling a bong rip before leaping from 10,000 feet — that's probably a bad idea in real life, not just in advertising.)
Satinder Chera of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association says he received the erroneous information about retailing cannabis accessories from Health Canada itself.
"It appears from the response that you received that there is confusion at Health Canada as to the application of these new rules at retail, which I suppose one could argue is the consequence of the speed with which Health Canada is trying to implement the legalization of cannabis," he wrote in an email to The Leaf News.
Chera worries Health Canada isn't doing enough to inform retailers who sell cannabis accessories about the implications of the new law. He feels "there has been zero outreach by Health Canada to inform convenience retailers about these new obligations," and wonders if or how the government intends to do so before legalization comes into effect.
One thing is certain: October 17 is just 84 days away, and the clock is ticking.
Here at The Leaf, we do our best to provide the facts about cannabis legalization in Canada — but on the rare occasion we're misled, we'll correct any errors and let you know about the change. We regret disseminating any inaccurate information about how the Cannabis Act will impact retail sales of cannabis accessories.
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