The day cannabis was legalized in Canada, a weed accessories store in St. John’s, N.L., had a strange visit from the regulators of the province. The store was full of customers exploring items like electronic vaporizers and glassware cleaners when two inspectors walked in. They looked around the store and informed the head shop owner that they were not permitted to print the word ‘cannabis’ anywhere in the store and on the staff clothes. They further informed that they were not allowed to label any of the things sold at the store as weed accessories.
The inspectors were talking while pointing at the sign in the shop and the T-shirt of the store cashier which read ‘specialty cannabis supplies’. When asked to explain why they could not do that, they responded ‘re-read the provincial and federal legislation’. They were referring to the Cannabis Act and everything it says about marketing cannabis and weed accessories really confusing. A criminal defense lawyer, Gruchy says he could not find anything in the act forbidding the use of the word ‘cannabis’ in head shops. However, there are provisions in the act regarding the presence of minors in stores selling weed accessories.
Gruchy clarified that a scenario where admission of young people is banned by law for legal reason, such as a bar, would work. But when you talk about a shop, a notice of ‘young people are not permitted by law’ puts you in a question. Thus, posting a sign of ‘no minors allowed’ outside a cannabis store might not be enough to stay away from the regulators. He also feels that the federal government did not intend the act to be interpreted so aggressively as the regulators did in this case. This is because, if the act meant so strictly, selling a book about cannabis cultivation would also have legal risks. The government has handed to the agents the interpretation of legislation which is not well-written.
Gruchy says that the Cannabis Act is similar to the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act when it comes to promotion with just one difference. While the tobacco promotion law strictly targets the tobacco industry, the law for cannabis regulation catches anybody selling weed or weed accessories. This also means that the marijuana culture which existed always before the legalization of pot would be in trouble. Another flaw with the weed Canada law is that it applies to those who sell marijuana accessories and not to those who make them for their personal use.
The head shop owner has not yet been able to receive a straight answer to what exactly he had done wrong. He also tried to get answers from the liquor corporation but nobody seemed to identify what parts of the laws were actually violated. They believe the NCL itself is not completely sure of what they are doing and it is not surprising that they did not receive answers. Gruchy says the federal government should add amendments about the regulation explaining the presence of minors. The present situation is quite confusing.