Pubdate: Sun, 05 Nov 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Morgan Lowrie
Page: A2


Street ads for Weedmaps app under attack for illegality

MONTREAL- Ben Anson says he was outraged to see a large-scale
billboard advertising Weedmaps, an app that lists local marijuana
providers, crop up in a spot near several schools in Montreal earlier
this year.

Recently, he contacted the company hosting the ad, asking them to take
it down because of the presence of children in the area. He says they
agreed, replacing that ad with a picture of a giraffe.

But the 47-year-old says he also filed a police complaint against the
marketing firm handling Weedmaps' advertising, believing the other ads
around the city encourage people to engage in illegal activity.

"I never imagined that our mayor or the provincial or federal
authorities wouldn't stop this thing," he said.

"Here I am, just a citizen, having to file a criminal complaint for
something that is patently illegal."

Ads promoting Weedmaps, a California-based website and mobile
application, have sprung up in cities across Canada in recent months.

The platform lists nearby medical marijuana dispensaries, delivery
services, as well as resources about cannabis. It does not sell any of
the products directly.

Pam McColl, a B.C.-based anti-marijuana activist, says she and the
various groups she's affiliated with have been taking aim at the
marijuana advertising that has cropped up in several cities, including
on door hangers in Toronto.

"Profiting from crime is a criminal offence, and so our strategy right
now is to go after the big players because we feel they're doing the
biggest harm," she said.

While consuming marijuana for medical purposes is legal under certain
circumstances, storefront dispensaries remain illegal, as do
operations selling recreational cannabis.

Several groups contacted by The Canadian Press were unable to give a
direct answer on whether Weedmaps' ads violate Canadian laws or
advertising standards.

A spokesperson for Health Canada wrote that the agency "is aware of
this particular situation and is investigating," and added the
department has strict regulations on promoting products that include

"Under these prohibitions, no person shall publish, cause to be
published or furnish any advertisement to the general public
respecting a narcotic, including cannabis," says a department statement.

Weedmaps did not respond to a request for comment.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt