Like many other Canadians, when I heard Cannabis was going to be legalized after all these years of struggle, I was elated. I also had a more cynical response. Understandably the Liberals had to put a bill together that would satisfy the critics of legalization and I knew that meant my vision of legalization would be up in smoke. I expected tight controls and limitations on marketing and advertising, and yet I was still deeply disappointed with what seemed more like an about face on legalization.
Under the heading “Other Prohibitions”, the first item of business is “Promotion”. A telling first choice. Is this of primary importance? I think here is the central theme of bill: jam cannabis culture. This may sound trivial, but it is not. Nor is this tactic a new idea in Ottawa. They've been in the culture jamming business for centuries. Cannabis culture provided the country with a cohesive voice to counter the drug war; the ongoing war on, among others, cannabis users and advocates.
The proposed act states “it is prohibited to promote cannabis or a cannabis accessory or any service
related to cannabis, including
(a) by communicating information about its price or distribution;
(b) by doing so in a manner that there are reasonable grounds to believe could be appealing to young persons;
(c) by means of a testimonial or endorsement, however displayed or communicated;
(d) by means of the depiction of a person, character or animal, whether real or fictional; or
(e) by presenting it or any of its brand elements in a manner that associates it or the brand element with, or evokes a positive or negative emotion about or image of, a way of life such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.
To be clear these prohibitions are permitted in business to business promotion, but is explicitly prohibited when directed towards consumers. Consumers are not to be lured by price, testimonial, or cuddly mascot. Providing cannabis to consumers is meant to be a grim, unhappy business. It is as though the very people who used to take your cannabis away from you were being forced to give it back. Imagine how gloomy and dark their hearts must feel, now having to engage in such a distasteful act.
I wondered how BC Bud Rub would have to look under this new regime and I present to you an image of the new label inspired by this proposed act. I think this says it all. This new act replete with its draconian punishments is not a legalization of cannabis, but a step back. These laws will apply to all cannabis related products such as pipes and vaporizers. Promotion will be prohibited. Laws preventing the sale of these items were repealed years ago and now Ottawa is using censorship keep cannabis and its culture locked up while spinning it as legalization.