A fuckin’ Itodaso. Health Canada has deemed the Trailer Park Buds non-compliant. And for the first time, the federal regulator has given a clear explanation why.
When the now-notorious Buds hit the legal market earlier this year, it immediately sparked speculation if the branded weed complied with Canada’s strict promotional rules. Organigram, the licensed producer that had made a deal to use elements from the famous TV show, believed the brand was compliant. Health Canada said it wasn’t prepared to give a ruling at the time.
So when Organigram (TSX: OGI) revealed this week the Buds brand was being re-worked, more guesswork — mixed with some ready-made nostalgia — propagated through weed Twitter once again.
Lawyers, marketers and others across the industry have long decried an absence of clear examples from Health Canada on what complies with the strict yet ambiguous promotional rules in the Cannabis Act. Now an example exists.
The regulator says it became aware of the product release in April of this year.
“Health Canada reviewed the product, and subsequently contacted the company to express concerns that the package and labelling containing the brand elements appeared to set out a depiction of real or fictional persons through reference to the Trailer Park Boys characters and show,” it told Mugglehead an emailed statement.
“The Cannabis Act aims to protect public health and public safety and, in particular, to protect young persons and others from inducements to using cannabis,” Health Canada says. “That is why the Act includes prohibitions on promotions and packaging and labelling that appeal to youth, that use testimonials, endorsements and depictions of real or fictional persons, characters, or animals, or that present a product or brand in a manner that associates it with a particular way of life.”
To paraphrase, the Buds product is non-compliant because its branding elements depict fictional or real persons through reference to the Trailer Park Boys show and its characters, which in turn appeal to youth. The fictional persons being the motley crew of lovable criminals, and the real being the celebrity actors who acted as them.
While it might have been a bit of a stretch to say the original Showcase series — which first aired from 2001 to 2008 — has a youthful audience, the fact that all the episodes are available on Netflix along with the release of a new animated version of the show, means some kids are definitely aware of the Boys.
Whether being aware of the Boys makes the Buds more appealing to youth, or if cannabis marketing should be regulated akin to alcohol, are questions that will likely remain confined to social media for at least the rest of 2020.
When Health Canada identifies potential non-compliance it says it works with the implicated parties, where appropriate, to make sure they’re aware of the prohibitions and give them an opportunity to comply.
Following communications with the regulator, Organigram is undertaking voluntary changes to the Buds branding and logo.
Top photo: Mike Smith, Robb Wells and John Paul Tremblay created a worldwide Canadian sensation with their hit television show. Photo by Jason Bain via Wikimedia Commons