April 8, 2018 11:29 am

‘Severe restrictions’ will mean no celebrity endorsements of pot products: Bill Blair

WATCH: Celebrity endorsement and lifestyle advertising not allowed with this drug: Blair

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Snoop Dog may have invested in Canada’s burgeoning legal marijuana market, but you won’t see the American rapper posing in front of a local store with a joint in hand anytime soon.

In an interview on this weekend’s edition of The West Block, the federal government’s point-man on pot reiterated that celebrity endorsements of any kind for legal marijuana products will be forbidden.

“The law is explicit and clear, that celebrity endorsement, lifestyle advertising is not allowed with cannabis,” said Liberal MP and former Toronto police chief Bill Blair.

“It’s not the government’s intention to promote the use of this drug … We are not allowing the heavy marketing that we’ve seen with other products, alcohol for example, and so there will be severe restrictions on things like celebrity endorsement and [company] sponsorship.”

WATCH: Ottawa confirms packaging restrictions on legalized marijuana

Established companies will undoubtedly be trying to find ways to get around those rules as more and more celebrities link their names to Canadian pot. Members of The Tragically Hip have creative and shareholder ties to Up Cannabis, for example, and the Trailer Park Boys have inked a brand development deal with New Brunswick’s OrganiGram.

Blair was in Thunder Bay last week for a town-hall session, where he fielded questions from the public about the new laws governing the drug, how it will be sold and how it will be policed.


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Canada Day was ‘never on the table’

Blair told host Eric Sorensen that the widely reported target date of July 1, 2018 for legalization was, in fact, “never on the table.”

“But we were aiming to get this done by July 2018,” he added.

READ MORE: Canadians pay $6.83 on average for a gram of marijuana

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently said he wanted to see the bill legalizing the drug receive royal assent this spring to allow it to become available for sale sometime this summer. It passed second reading in the Senate in March and is now before committee. Blair echoed Trudeau’s sentiments this weekend.
“Regulations will be ready to go, but when that royal assent takes place, we’ve got some work to do for an orderly rollout,” he said.

“I think Canadians can anticipate within [a] two-month window of royal assent, the government of Canada will establish and announce a date of implementation.”

Ottawa has faced criticism from all sides over its approach to pot, with some critics arguing that it shouldn’t be made legal at all, and others complaining that the government is being too heavy-handed with strict rules around packaging and marketing. The provinces have faced similar blowback.

“I think you can be very strict and with experience, and time, if you find that you can ease up or perhaps alter your approach, that’s something that can be done,” Blair said.

“But if you start loose and with little control, it’s very difficult to get strict and get control afterwards.”

Watch the full interview with Bill Blair below

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