Cannabis Sales Need to Involve a Mental Health-Conscious Marketing Plan

Governments face tough decisions about how to market the drug properly as legalization draws nearer

(Nicola Kwit)

Legalization of recreational marijuana use in Canada is expected to be debated and ultimately implemented this year, and while this comes as a welcome change for many residents, there are reasons to be cautious about it.

Under the Cannabis Act, or Bill C-45, the federal government will oversee production and manufacturing of the drug, while each province and territory is responsible for regulating sales and distribution. The federal government has also set minimum standards and limits for the age of consumption, drug-impaired driving, personal possession, and cultivation, and has given provincial government the authority to implement further restrictions. British Columbia has set the minimum age of consumption at 19.

But more than these regulations, what’s really up for debate within provincial governments is how to market cannabis. Medical marijuana is currently under similar restrictions as tobacco with regards to advertising, but with legalization that might change.

For cannabis growers, branding is important to get consumers to switch from using the illegal marker to legal retailers, but there is also an argument for putting strict limits on it for health reasons.

Although many users safely enjoy the medical and recreational consumption of marijuana, what people need to keep in mind is that cannabis becoming legal does not necessarily mean that it’s a good idea for everyone to consume it.

According to Health Canada, negative health effects caused by cannabis consumption include anxiety, panic, paranoia, hallucinations, and other psychotic symptoms. These symptoms can be more severe and longer-lasting for young adults under 25 years old. This age group is especially vulnerable because the THC in cannabis affects brain development during these years. With extended usage of the drug, some of the side effects can become irreversible.

The concern with the marketing of cannabis is that consumers may think it’s completely harmless if it’s advertised like alcohol. Many more Canadians have experienced the effects of drinking alcohol than the effects of cannabis. Because of that, emphasis needs to be put on being cautious when experimenting once marijuana is accessibility.

While legalization means that there will be less risk of Canadians consuming contaminated or laced cannabis, there are other factors to consider before using the drug. People need to be educated on its effects, risk factors that increase adverse side effects, and how the drug interacts with other substances such as alcohol and tobacco.

I’m all for legalizing marijuana, but I also know that young people need to be vigilant with their mental health. Cannabis is said to have many health benefits, especially for the treatment of depression and anxiety, but it can also create problems in people who are predisposed to psychosis. While many people consume the drug on a daily basis with no negative effects, you never know how it will affect you until you use it, and it’s important to take it slow and educate yourself before trying something new.

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