Saturday, August 1, 2015

Canada Take Proactive Approach to Marijuana Advertising Enforcement

New direction will mean Health Canada will actively monitor for advertising violations

OTTAWA, Aug. 1, 2015 The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, today announced she has directed Health Canada to take a more proactive approach to monitoring illegal advertising of marijuana by non-regulated parties. This will be done using existing authorities under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Health Canada will proactively monitor all forms of marijuana advertising and promotion, and will issue compliance letters in cases where violations are identified. Continued violations may be referred to law enforcement. The department will also be more active in working with businesses to ensure that they are aware of the rules around advertising marijuana for medical purposes. Businesses and individual Canadians will be provided with an opportunity to file complaints about illegal advertising for follow-up.

Consistent with Health Canada's commitment to openness and transparency, information will be made available on the Health Canada website on advertising activities being investigated and actions that have been taken.

Quick Facts

  • Marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada. The Government of Canada does not endorse the use of marijuana, but the courts have required reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana when authorized by a healthcare practitioner.
  • With the rise in number of illegal marijuana dispensaries, including mail-order and web-based services that don't have physical locations, advertising for their services has also become much more common in recent years.
  • To date, Health Canada's activities around illegal marijuana advertising by non-regulated parties have been primarily complaint based. Under the new approach, the department will be more proactive in identifying and addressing cases of illegal advertising.
  • In addition to more traditional advertising in print, radio and television, Health Canada will monitor web sites for various businesses, including dispensaries, to identify any advertising that may be taking place.
  • Regulated parties such as licensed producers of marijuana for medical purposes are allowed to conduct limited advertising of basic information that is non-promotional, as long as they do not violate applicable advertising prohibitions.

"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. I have directed Health Canada to take a more proactive approach to compliance in order to protect the health and safety of Canadians."
The Honourable Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

Associated Links

Information on Marijuana for Medical Purposes

SOURCE Health Canada
CONTACT: Michael Bolkenius, Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Federal Minister of Health, (613) 957-0200; Health Canada, Media Relations, (613) 957-2983; Public Inquiries: (613) 957-2991, 1-866 225-0709; Health Canada news releases are available on the Internet at:

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