AGLC questioned over 420 promotion on their website

| David Brown

The Alberta cannabis regulator and online retailer recently violated their own cannabis marketing rules, having to walk back an advertisement for a 420-related sale. 

As first reported in Cannabis Retailer, the AGLC was running a promotion for discounts on certain cannabis products, which the article says is violating the provincial rules on marketing and promotion. 

After hearing from the Alberta Cannabis Council, the AGLC CEO Kandice Machado is reported to have asked the AGLC not to advertise or highlight price reductions on the website, reports Cannabis Retailer.

The Alberta Cannabis Council’s Executive Director John Carle tells StratCann he is happy with how quickly the AGLC responded to their concerns. 

“When we brought our concerns to the AGLC, they were very quick to respond, they were very quick to make the appropriate changes, and within I would say 24 hours they had taken down their promotion and re-complied with their own rules,” says Carle.

Alberta has some of the most strict—and most commonly enforced—cannabis marketing rules in Canada. As of last November, the provincial regulator had taken regulatory action against at least 25 cannabis growers and retailers since legalization began on October 17, 2018, using more than $90,000 in fines. Although Alberta’s provincial regulations do not include language in regard to conveying price, the federal cannabis regulations do.

Other provinces have faced similar criticism for their own promotional activities. In addition, the federal Cannabis Act prohibits inducements to purchase cannabis, which some interpret as applying to price reductions. 

Ryan Roch, the owner of Lake City Cannabis in Chestermere says this sort of error on the part of AGLC shows the difficulty in navigating these kinds of strict marketing rules at the provincial level.

While he gives credit to AGLC for correcting their mistake, he says when rules are so difficult that even the regulator breaks them, it’s perhaps time to reevaluate. 

“I think the AGLC should be applauded to a certain extent, in terms of seeing there is a problem and taking accountability to change it,” says Roch. “Walking it back as a regulator is often difficult to do, so I think they deserve a little bit of credit. But the rules are so wildly all over the place and contradictory and hard to understand, it’s a very difficult process.

“This is the situation you end up with, where you have supposed experts on the field who are just unable to draw the lines in between what is allowed and isn’t allowed. 

“It’s the wild west right now in terms of pushing the rules and boundaries and what can be done, of what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable, so it just becomes exceedingly difficult… to manage and monitor. It’s a difficult process and probably doesn’t make a lot of sense in the long run, to be spending time on this when there’s obviously larger fish to fry in terms of what is more impactful on the industry.”