The various movements that have been working to legalize marijuana around the world have done so because they believe that marijuana should not be classified as a drug. They argue that it is no more dangerous than alcohol and tobacco, products which can be readily and copiously consumed.
They even go so far as to say that marijuana is significantly less dangerous and it can be useful in terms of its medicinal properties. There has been a fair amount of research done in an attempt to back up these claims. Whether this research has been able to validate these arguments is another conversation entirely.
The reality is that there is still a huge stigma attached to the product. Large portions of the population believe that the product can be very damaging to the youth of a country. This is the minefield that Canada is traversing through at the moment.
They are well on their way to legalizing marijuana. But they are enforcing incredibly stringent marijuana packaging laws which could handicap the industry before it even has a chance to grow.
What kind of labels are prohibited?
To appease the Canadian citizens who, view marijuana as dangerous, the government has taken countless steps to ensure that marijuana packages are not viewed as attractive. The theme of these marijuana packaging laws is that youngsters should not find the product appealing. There can be no person, character or animal on the package.
There can also be no endorsement of any kind that may allude to a way of life that could be viewed as glamorous or exciting. This does not only apply to the wording or pictures that are used to package marijuana. There are also laws restricting the colors that are used.
Bold, loud or flashy colors are prohibited. This is quite similar to the cigarette boxes that are sold in the United Kingdom, where only one matte color can be used. A color that has been named the ugliest color in the world. These laws may seem a bit extreme, but they do serve a purpose.
The point of them is to stop people from being coerced into buying a product simply because it is attractive. The Canadian government does not want the youth of their country pouring their money into a product to enhance their social status.
What about the packaging itself?
It is all well and good to enforce laws that govern the type of branding that can and cannot appear on a marijuana package. But, what about the package itself? Every single package of marijuana needs to be child-resistant and they need to be tamper-evident packages.
Producers are also not able to place any branding insert inside the package. These marijuana packaging laws are quite airtight. The government appears to have thought of every possible loophole that companies could find in an attempt to get their brand out there.
Packages also need to have warning labels
Just like boxes of cigarettes need to clearly state that they contain nicotine, marijuana packages need to alert customer to the fact that there is marijuana in them.
A symbol has been created for this specific purpose. It is a stop sign that contains a marijuana leaf and the letters THC. This symbol needs to appear on each package that contains marijuana. Then there are the 14 warnings. These warn people about the dangers of driving after consuming marijuana or smoking while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Not all 14 warnings have to appear on the product at the same time. But they do need to appear at some point during the year, meaning that companies will have to have a rotation schedule for the printing of these warnings.
Companies cannot try and bypass this marijuana packaging law by making the warnings very small and dull. They need to be depicted in yellow, in a size and location that makes it easy to read.
How could all of this hinder the industry?
In a capitalist system, branding is everything. It is how companies get their products out there. They need to be able to convey some message regarding their product if they are to attract potential customers. This is how competition works.
It takes a while for a company to build a reputable brand that can stand on its reputation alone. Due to the marijuana packaging laws in Canada, companies will not be able to do this.
Their products will be almost indistinguishable from the next. In this climate, how are they going to be able to grow? How are they going to establish themselves as a desirable brand?
A legal marijuana industry could potentially bring in a lot of revenue for the country, but that can only happen if the companies in the industry can survive. This is not necessarily the environment that the Canadian government is creating. They are also making it harder for the legal industry to compete with the illegal one.
The legal versus the illegal market
Peddlers of illegal marijuana in Canada will not have to follow the stringent marijuana packaging laws that are being written up. They do not need to print the warnings. They can use colors. They can falsify information, deceive their customers and flat-out lie about what they are selling.
In short, they can make their products as attractive as they want. How are the legal companies supposed to compete with this? Purchasing illegal marijuana may carry legal repercussions, but people have been doing this for decades.
Marijuana consumption is not a new thing. Hundreds of thousands of people, all over the world, have been consuming marijuana regardless of the fact that it was illegal. Why would they stop now? If they weren’t afraid of the law previously, why should they be now?
It is still early days for the marijuana industry, and it is entirely possible that it does survive and thrive despite the laws that exist.