The marijuana industry in Canada is set to experience some growing pains as recreational legalization arrives on Oct. 17.

Existing dispensaries have been bracing for the impact of the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45), which will require drastic changes to their storefronts to comply with the law.

In particular, both packaging and advertising methods will require major overhauls to avoid the impression of any product being marketed towards children, which is prohibited by Part 1, Section 17 of the law.

The same section of C-45 prohibits naming and packaging including depictions of a person, character or animal (whether real or fictional) that evokes a positive emotion such as “glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.”

That particular section has been interpreted by Health Canada to mean celebrity endorsements will not be allowed, and companies further won’t be allowed to use celebrity names to advertise any cannabis-related products.

That position was clarified by spokesperson for Health Canada, who issued this statement to Marijuana Business Daily:

Under the current regulations, a brand could be named after an individual. The Cannabis Act will prohibit this and other types of promotions upon coming into force.

Lawyers focusing on the intricacies of the Cannabis Act agree with that interpretation. Trina Fraser, a lawyer with Brazeau Seller Law who advised marijuana producers, had this to say to Marijuana Business Daily:

If a name can, in and of itself, be a ‘depiction,’ then yes this will have an impact on branding. Any brand referencing a celebrity by name will be offside in that case.

That interpretation of the law is expected to cause setbacks for marijuana brands such as Leafs by Snoop, which is specifically endorsed by Snoop Dogg in conjunction with Canopy Growth Corporation.

It will also necessitate changes to existing products from companies like Winnipeg-based Delta 9 Cannabis. Delta 9 began selling an Indica dominant hybrid called Justin Trudope in January.

Under these guidelines, the play on words product name that riffs off Justin Trudeau will no longer be allowed.

Delta 9 is one of three companies preparing to open storefronts in Manitoba by the Oct. 17 legalization date.

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