Pubdate: Thu, 09 Nov 2017
Source: Vancouver 24hours (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Vancouver 24 hrs.
Author: Ada Slivinski
Page: 3


The guidelines are strict but it won't matter

According to new marijuana marketing guidelines released Wednesday by
The Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Branding after working with
Advertising Standards Canada, companies marketing marijuana will not
be able to use animals to sell pot nor will be they be able to promote
the use of cannabis itself ( just brand preference) and they will be
required to advertise in places where over 70 per cent of the audience
is adult (or above the age of majority in the particular province).

These guidelines, expected to be endorsed by the federal government
seem to make sense and are stricter than what we currently have in
place for alcohol. Under them, we wouldn't see a commercial or foxes
smoking joints during the hockey game or SpongeBob SquarePants. But
let's not be naive that guidelines like this will make much of a
difference. Advertising has changed drastically over the past five
years. This year, 3.3 billion was spent on TV advertising in Canada
while 5.23 billion was spent on digital advertising according to
Statistica. The digital sector keeps growing and it's much harder to
police than traditional platforms. How exactly do you distinguish
between an Instagram post promoting a specific brand and a post that
pushes pot in general? Let's be clear, any marijuana advertising
glorifies the drug.

The international market for cannabis is projected to hit $31.4
billion by 2021, according to a new report from the Brightfield Group,
a cannabis market research firm. That's a huge market and advertising
by marijuana companies in Canada has already begun.

Just visit the social media pages for Birch + Fog, a Vancouver-based
online cannabis retailer. "Focus on task, refresh from stress, create
your art, relax from long days, enhance energetic workouts, ignite
passionate nights," reads the company's Instagram bio. Through images
and captions, the company promotes marijuana use. It's near impossible
to promote a cannabis brand without endorsing cannabis use. While TV
ads have to go through many eyes and rounds of approval before they
appear on air, online almost anything goes.

Additionally, those young people the guidelines are supposed to shield
from marijuana advertising, they're the ones spending the majority of
time on social media and online.

Yes, under these guidelines we might not see a magazine spread
promoting sativa for relaxation, but it really might not matter. Young
eyes are not poring over magazines, they're scrolling through
Instagram feeds and there anyone can post instantly without any sort
of regulatory approval. If we want to protect our young people, we
need to hit the ground running with education campaigns before this
stuff is legal and not rely on the Cannabis Branding Coalition to
protect our kids for us.
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MAP posted-by: Matt