Some of the top licensed marijuana producers have written to Ottawa, asking the federal government to give them the opportunity to brand their products and offer medical cannabis on a tax−free basis.
The top seven licensed producers which include Tweed, Green Organic Dutchman Holding, Tilray, Mettrum, Delta 9 Bio-Tech and Redecan Pharm are urging those in authority ahead of the week when legislation legalizing recreational use of drug is expected to be introduced.
A government task force has suggested a transparent packaging for cannabis and restriction of advert promotion similar to those placed on the tobacco industry.
But as stated in their letter, these certified producers claim that stopping them from branding their cannabis will make it very difficult for them to stay above the competition with the black market most especially the illegal dispensaries.
"Brands allow professional companies to separate themselves from less scrupulous competitors," says Kennedy Brendan, president of Tilray, a B.C.-based marijuana producer.
Some advocates in the health sector have maintained that it is crucial to restrict branding and advertisement so as to make sure those users are fully aware of possible health implications associated with the substance.
Another fear is that these licensed producers could use their product promotion and advertisement to compel widespread consumption of the drug, much like what happened with alcohol and tobacco some time ago.
But the licensed producers say the motive behind the branding and advertising is not to lure people into consuming marijuana. Rather, the plan is to use branding and in-store promotion to enlighten users about several strains and their effects, as written in the letter.
"No one in this industry is looking to repeat the same mistakes as tobacco or alcohol," says Kennedy. "No one wants to see a Joe Camel of this industry."
Another big concern of the cannabis producers is the issue of tax force’s recommendation that recreational and medical cannabis be taxed the same equal amount.
According to these licensed companies, this would bring “unduly burden” to the medical cannabis patients, and urge that medical cannabis should be sold tax-free.
"Other pharmaceutical products aren’t taxed," says Kennedy.