Some Montreal residents enraged over ‘Weedmaps’ billboards

Click to play video 'Weedmaps billboards take a hit in Montreal' Weedmaps billboards take a hit in Montreal
WATCH: Weedmaps reviews marijuana dispensaries and pot strains, but the company’s Montreal-area billboards are creating a negative buzz among residents. As Global's Dan Spector reports, the signs are now being weeded out – Nov 1, 2017

Billboards for ‘Weedmaps’ are raising the ire of some Montrealers.

One of the billboards for the website, described by some as “the Yelp of cannabis dispensaries,” is at the corner of Somerled and Cavendish in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG). Another, on the side of Highway 13, is passed by thousands of motorists each day.

“Basically, Weedmaps is a website referral service to help people find retails stores or online services to buy cannabis,” said pro-marijuana activist Marc-Boris St-Maurice.

He runs the Montreal Compassion Centre, a medical marijuana dispensary that is technically illegal but operates in a grey zone. His business is listed on Weedmaps, though he never asked for it to be.

Concerned Montrealer, Ben Anson, is outraged that the billboards are on display and is furious at the company that sells the ad space.

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“Pattison Media, by advertising marijuana, is aiding and abetting criminal activity. They’re profiting from criminal activity. Though they tell me they have high ethical standards, I don’t understand how they can reconcile promoting marijuana when it’s still illegal,” Anson told Global News.

The anti-marijuana legalization activist says another Weedmaps billboard was on De Maisonneuve near Walkley up until last week but was removed after he complained to Pattison that it was near three schools.

“They apologized and immediately removed an ad. They replaced it with a picture of a giraffe, which is kid friendly,” he said.

Global News reached out to Pattison for comment, but their spokesman was not available.

Weedmaps didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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According to Health Canada, it’s illegal for licenced marijuana producers and sellers to advertise marijuana. When asked if it’s illegal to provide a map to dispensaries, they couldn’t give an answer.

“We saw the same thing with Uber coming in,” said St-Maurice. “People don’t quite know what to do about it, then after a while, the government wakes up and catches up with what’s happening on the ground.”

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One of the big questions leading up to the legalization of recreational marijuana is what kind of advertising will be allowed.

“I think there’s a difference between a billboard that advertises to the public, and promotion that happens within an age-controlled framework,” said Adam Greenblatt, Quebec brand manager of marijuana producer Canopy.