Canada to Crack Down on Dispensary Ads

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Marketing efforts by Canadian dispensaries that aren’t federally licensed will face more scrutiny after the country’s health agency said it will aggressively monitor cannabis-related advertisements.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose said in a statement that she directed Health Canada to take “a more proactive approach to monitoring illegal advertising of marijuana by non-regulated parties” under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The move is a change from prior enforcement in which Health Canada would act mostly after a complaint.

Only licensed producers are allowed to advertise on a limited basis. The agency will monitor dispensary web sites to identify violations, she said.

Ambrose’s actions are a response to storefronts that are opening in Vancouver after the city decided to regulate dispensaries, which flies in the face of federal law, according to The Canadian Press.

“The law is quite clear that dispensaries, whether they are online or a store-front, are illegal and they should not be allowed to advertise these illegal services,” Ambrose said in the statement.

MMJ in Canada is federally legal, but only licensed companies are allowed to produce, process and sell cannabis, which must be mailed. The city of Vancouver, however, decided in June to allow dispensaries despite federal regulations.

A Vancouver radio station received a letter from Health Canada in early June, telling it to refrain from advertising marijuana, and that it should not “encourage Canadians to participate in illegal activities” that put listeners at risk of prosecution.