Canada: Addiction Industries Team Up
Major alcohol and cannabis industry players are teaming up to water down proposed rules governing cannabis-infused beverages before edibles become legal in Canada in the coming months. To that end, Big Alcohol and Big Marijuana have formed a cannabis-alcohol industry alliance lobby group.
Health Canada’s regulations a lobbying target
According to Health Canada’s proposed rules for edibles, cannabis-infused drinks and food, these products must be made in a separate facility. Draft regulations – released in December 2018 – also stipulate that alcohol manufacturers cannot use their existing names or brands on cannabis drinks. Certain terms related to alcoholic beverages are also prohibited from use in connection with cannabis-based drinks under the draft regulations.
Big Alcohol has teamed up with the cannabis industry and formed the The Cannabis Beverage Producers Alliance. The short-term intent is to unleash a lobbying blitz to weaken the planned regulations which will govern these cannabis-infused products. The alliance is led by former Nova Scotia premier Darrell Dexter with 10 member companies including the Molson Coors-Hexo Corp.-joint venture Truss Beverages.
Production with Big Alcohol’s help and watered down marketing rule
The alliance is lobbying to gain the ability to produce cannabis-based drinks in the same facilities where non-cannabis beverages are made. Further the group is pushing for less stringent marketing rules that would allow companies to use terms related to alcoholic beverages, such as “wine.” As well, the group is pushing for companies to be able to tap existing alcohol brand and product names for Cannabis-infused drinks.
One of their major arguments is the same one Big Alcohol uses on”competing with the illicit market”. However, evidence shows that addiction industries cause a significant health and economic burden to countries. Cost-effective and high-impact measures to curb illicit trade of harmful substances is effective law enforcement, and not reducing regulation and control of the legal market.
Ottawa finished its consultation process for its proposed rules in February, but has not yet released the final version. Health Canada has said the final rules must be brought into force no later than Oct. 17, 2019.