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Canadian Marijuana Firms Warned to Play by the Rules After Legalization

Organigram facility in Moncton
Organigram's facility in Moncton. (Image: submitted)

SAINT JOHN, N.B.—The former chair of the federal cannabis task force is warning the industry to play by the rules when recreational marijuana is legalized.

“We’ve seen this too often with big tobacco and big pharma,” Anne McLellan told weed producers Monday, noting tobacco companies and the government have clashed in court numerous times over advertising and branding.

“The rules are there … but they’ll push right up against those rules and then make us take them to court, for example, to get clarity.”

The former federal justice minister said the cannabis industry has the opportunity to play within the rules — and perhaps get some future concessions.

But McLellan told the World Cannabis Congress in Saint John that firms could face pushback from government and communities if they don’t.

“There could be pushback and nobody knows where that pushback might end up,” said McLellan, whose task force reported to the Trudeau government in December 2016 and underpinned its recreational cannabis bill.

The Senate has approved the bill — but with nearly four dozen amendments that the government may not entirely accept.

Bill C-45 passed in the upper house last week by a vote of 56-to-30 with one abstention, over the objections of Conservative senators. The bill must now go back to the House of Commons, where the government will decide whether to approve, reject or modify the changes before returning it to the Senate for another vote.

The cannabis industry has complained that some of the regulations are too restrictive.

Health Canada is requiring marijuana packages to be a single, uniform colour without images or graphics other than the logo and a health warning.

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By Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press