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Health Canada said it spoke this month with 19 private retailers in five provinces to address non-compliant cannabis promotions, and the federal department said it expects licence holders to ensure they are compliant, specifically on websites that do not require proper age verification to enter.

“During these calls, Health Canada addressed a range of instances of non-compliant cannabis promotion by private cannabis retailers that it had observed and reminded the participants of their responsibility to ensure that promotional activities are in compliance with the Cannabis Act and the Cannabis Regulations,” said André Gagnon, Communications Advisor with Health Canada, in an email to Cannabis Professional.

Health Canada spoke with retailers in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.

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In addition to making its second warning to retailers about their responsibility to establish true age gates to prevent under-aged youth from accessing their websites, Health Canada addressed other legislated regulations around the promotion of cannabis including marketing that associates the product with a way of life, depictions a person, the offering of free samples and contest prizes conditional on the purchase of pot, and making health or cosmetic claims.

“Health Canada has observed instances where private retailer websites have applied methods or controls that may be circumvented by youth,” Mr. Gagnon said, noting websites have been seen that do not require age verification or age-gates that require one click attesting to age to enter.

“Health Canada expects licence holders to take steps to ensure that their activities are compliant with their legislative obligations.”

The December calls follow Health Canada’s letters to licence holders and retailers in March, reminding them of the country’s prohibitions against traditional marketing techniques that are designed to keep recreational cannabis away from minors.

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