The Ontario Cannabis Store backtracked on a Black Friday promotion this week after “consulting” with Health Canada, highlighting the limitations facing adult-use marijuana retailers – even ones owned by the government – in getting their message out.
In a Tweet earlier this week, the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) said “something big” was coming to OCS.ca, its monopoly online outlet, asking consumers to “shop our collection of 7 grams starting at CA$7.50/g.”
That was promptly deleted and replaced by a communication which did not mention a price nor use promotional language – instead mentioning only when Black Friday was happening.
“In consultation with Health Canada, we decided to change the creative supporting Black Friday,” an OCS spokesperson told Marijuana Business Daily. “Like others in the industry, we work with Health Canada on an ongoing basis to fine tune our communications and marketing efforts to align with their guidance.”
The “something big” the OCS was referring to in the offside tweet was the introduction of 13 new products, as well as permanently lower prices on 39 stock keeping units (SKUs).
That is still taking place.
“Our Black Friday collection was put together with the help of our licensed producers as a way to deliver value to our customers and combat the illegal market,” the OCS spokesperson said, adding that it extended the new prices and products to its 24 authorized retailers.
Health Canada’s André Gagnon said the federal body reviews activities for compliance with the Cannabis Act and considers each situation on a case-by-case basis.
A range of factors are considered, including the purpose of any promotion, context and the intended audience.
Canada’s cannabis law allows informational promotions which present factual information about marijuana products, such as ingredients and levels of THC or CBD.
Those promotions may be provided:
- In a communication (such as an email) that is addressed and sent to an adult individual identified by name.
- In a place where young persons are not permitted by law, such as inside a cannabis store.
- On a website or via social media, where “reasonable steps” have been taken to ensure a reader’s age.
The OCS twitter page says followers must be 19 years of age, but the account remains easily accessible to minors.
Subsection 17(1) of the Cannabis Act prohibits the promotion of cannabis, including:
- Communications about its price or distribution.
- By means of a testimonial or endorsement.
- By means of the depiction of a person, character or animal, whether real or fictional.
- Communications evoking an emotion about or image of a way of life, such as glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.
Neither the OCS nor Health Canada answered specific questions from MJBizDaily.