Legal marijuana producers worried Ottawa may demand plain packaging

How will marijuana will be packaged for sale in Canada?.
How will marijuana will be packaged for sale in Canada?. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – Health Minister Jane Philpott will speak to a Senate committee today about proposed changes to tobacco laws, including plans for plain packaging — a measure that could also influence Ottawa’s plans for legalizing marijuana.

READ MORE: Too early to gauge impact of pot legalization on criminal market, RCMP notes say

The federal government’s task force has recommended keeping brands off legal pot, an idea that has marijuana producers nervous as the government prepares to introduce its legalization bill Thursday.

Philpott has been mum on the legislation’s contents, but says there are public health lessons to take from Canada’s experience with tobacco.

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Multiple producers have been lobbying the government to warn that if they are prevented from branding their products, it will be harder for legal pot to compete with its black-market counterpart.

Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole, a former public safety critic for his party, says the federal government should pick up the tab for additional law enforcement costs resulting from legalization.

READ MORE: Legalized marijuana taxes must be set low to deter black market: study

He says he would rather see a “hybrid” version of decriminalization that would allow police to ticket users, while retaining the ability to lay a criminal charge at their discretion.

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