The Canadian government has been working overtime to draft the rules governing its impending legal cannabis market, which is still on target to launch sometime this summer. Last fall, government officials launched a 60-day public consultation period to give citizens the chance to weigh in on how the country should regulate marijuana. This Monday, Health Canada released the results of these consultations, as well as drafted rules about how cannabis products should be packaged once legalization goes into effect.
"Over the past two years we have consulted extensively on our plans to legalize, regulate, and restrict access to cannabis," MP Bill Blair said at a press conference this Monday, according to CBC News. "What we've heard from Canadians is clear: these regulations must protect the health and safety of Canadians, particularly our youth, while at the same time enabling a diverse, competitive, and legal industry comprising both large and small players that can displace the existing illicit market for cannabis."
In keeping with the government's promise to keep legal weed "boring," all cannabis packaging will contain public safety warnings and must be devoid of flashy advertisements. The regulations state that all cannabis products must be packaged in child-resistant, tamper-evident packages. Each package must be one single color, and cannot display fluorescent or metallic colors, or any other form of loud branding. Manufacturers are also not allowed to place inserts inside the packaging.
In addition, every cannabis package must also be labeled with a "stop sign" symbol featuring a pot leaf, along with the letters "THC." Plus, the package must contain a bright yellow warning label displaying one of 14 approved warnings about the potential dangers of cannabis use, including warnings about driving under the influence of weed, breastfeeding, or adolescent use of the drug. Producers will need to ensure that all 14 warnings appear on their products by rotating them equally throughout the year.
Image via Health Canada
"Consistent with the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation's recommendation to require plain packaging of cannabis products, the regulations would set strict requirements related to the use of branding, logos, and colors," Health Canada said in a statement, Bloomberg reports. "It's very important for us to ensure the safety features are there in place," Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said at the press conference. "We want to make sure that it's child-proof and that it's tamper-evident."
Government officials received over 3,000 online responses and 450 written responses in answer to their request for public feedback on their regulations. Health Canada said that the majority of Canadians "supported the proposed approach to the regulation of cannabis," Global News reports. Some industry insiders are not so psyched about these restrictions, however, and some canna-business owners have already complained that the regulations will make it too difficult for them to differentiate themselves in the market.
"Plain packaging that treats cannabis like tobacco is outrageous and scientifically wrong," Cam Battley, chief corporate officer of Aurora Cannabis, said to Bloomberg. Battley explained that black market products "are beautifully packaged and branded," which will make it harder for legal products to compete. "The federal government is risking a policy fail," he warned.