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Health Canada’s Marketing Regulations

In an attempt to get further clarification on Health Canada’s regulations regarding marketing, we reached out to the Cannabis Compliance department and asked them to provide some more details about promotions, signage, and window coverings.

Hopefully their replies to our questions will give you a bit more insight into what you can and can’t do to market your cannabis retail store.

Q: What cannabis promotions are allowed?

For your questions based on promotions, the Cannabis Act generally prohibits the promotion of cannabis, cannabis accessories and services related to cannabis, except in limited circumstances. These prohibitions support the Government’s objective to protect public health and safety, including protecting young persons and others from inducements to use cannabis.

Under the Cannabis Act, to promote, means:

in respect of a thing or service, means to make, for the purpose of selling the thing or service, a representation – other than on a package or label – about the thing or service by any means, whether directly or indirectly, that is likely to influence and shape attitudes, beliefs and behaviours about the thing or services. 

Promotion includes representation made by any means. All forms of communications including but not limited to printed publications, broadcasts, media releases, online materials including on social media (e.g., Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), and signage are subject to the prohibitions regarding promotion. The Cannabis Act includes a number of broad prohibitions of promotions that could be appealing to young persons, may be considered a testimonial or endorsement, that set out a depiction of real or fictional persons, characters or animals, that evoke emotions or images of a way of life that could include glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring, or that may be false or misleading, among others.

The Cannabis Act  permits limited promotion by allowing persons authorized to produce, sell or distribute cannabis, and persons promoting cannabis accessories or a service related to cannabis, to promote by means of informational and brand-preference promotion, which are both defined in the Cannabis Act.  Such limited promotion may help consumers make informed decisions about cannabis. However, it is important to note that informational and brand-preference promotions must comply with conditions respecting access to young persons and are subject to the applicable prohibitions and the regulations.

Q: What wording can be used in promotional signage?

For your question on signage, in cases where informational and brand-preference promotion are displayed on signage, this signage must be in a place where young persons are not permitted by law pursuant to paragraph 17(2)(b) of the Cannabis Act. Therefore signage that includes promotions under the Cannabis Act, and that is accessible to the general public, is not in compliance with the Cannabis Act.

There are additional restrictions to be aware of with respect to brand elements which are defined as:

includes a brand name, trademark, tradename, distinguishing guise, logo, graphic arrangement, design or slogan that is reasonably associated with, or that evokes,

      1. cannabis, a cannabis accessory or a service related to cannabis; or
      2. a brand of any cannabis, cannabis accessory or service related to cannabis.

The Cannabis Act permits limited promotion related to cannabis by displaying a brand element of cannabis, of a cannabis accessory or of a service related to cannabis on a thing that is not cannabis or a cannabis accessory, other than:

    • a thing that is associated with young persons;
    • a thing that there are reasonable grounds to believe could be appealing to young persons; or
    • a thing that is associated with a way of life such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.

The Cannabis Regulations contains the following prohibitions applicable with respect to brand element on other things:

Number of brand elements

It is prohibited to promote cannabis, a cannabis accessory or a service related to cannabis in a manner that results:

    • In the same brand element being displayed more than once on a thing referred to in that subsection; or
    • In more than one brand element being displayed on the thing.

Dimensions of brand element

A brand element must meet the following requirements:

      1. the surface area must be smaller than or equal to 300 cm2; and
      2. the height of any letter, character or number must be smaller than or equal to 4 cm

Q – What style of window coverings are required, if any, as long as cannabis products are not visible from the store window?

With regards to window coverings, Sections 29 and 30 of the Cannabis Act make the following prohibitions:

Unless authorized under this Act, it is prohibited for a person that is authorized to sell cannabis or a cannabis accessory to display it, or any package or label of cannabis or a cannabis accessory, in a manner that may result in the cannabis, cannabis accessory, package or label being seen by a young person.

Recognizing that there are a variety of approaches and solutions that a person responsible for a cannabis retail space could deploy, Health Canada has not been prescriptive on what methods or means should be used. This provides regulated parties with flexibility in how they meet the legislative requirements.

Q: What type of age verification if required for cannabis deliveries? Is a credit score required to deliver cannabis to someone?

Finally for your questions on deliveries, Health Canada has not been prescriptive on this matter. We wish to highlight that each province or territory may have additional legislation that could apply. You are encouraged to be familiar with all relevant legislation and consult with provinces and territories as applicable.

Tags: Cannabis Act (25), Cannabis Regulations (69), Health Canada regulations (2), promotions (4), signage (1), window coverings (1)