Consultant Dr. Shane Morris almost ruined our weekend with a tweet questioning whether or not Seth Rogen’s Houseplant marketing initiatives for the US market could be viewed as non-compliant under Canada’s Cannabis Act.
Arguably, yes. (And no.)
Houseplant is a different beast in the US versus its Canadian iteration, so Health Canada arguably doesn’t have jurisdiction to regulate products and their promotion in the US, says Matt Maurer, partner and co-chair of Torkin Manes LLP’s Cannabis Law Group.
“I say ‘arguably’ because there is still a residual argument that simply promoting the brand in America in a fashion that would otherwise be non-compliant here (if that’s the case), could still in theory be offside, even if the products are not available for sale here,” Maurer says.
Cross-border brands, take note
With so many brands — dosist, Wana, Bhang and PAX* — reaching markets on both sides of the border, should they be concerned?
“Until we have a better handle on how Health Canada is going to treat this, it should definitely be front-and-centre of any cross-border branding strategies,” advises Maurer.
One way to lower the risk is to create two separate brands, he says. But he also warns that running any type of promotion in the US that wouldn’t be allowed in Canada will carry some risk.
In the meantime, go ahead and give Seth Rogen a follow – you won’t regret it.
*PAX just launched its first (awesome) episode of the Vanity Fair-produced The Human Toll: How the War on Cannabis Targeted Black America. Check it out.