The Cannabis Act is designed to protect the health and safety of Canadians, to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and to keep profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime. It is important to note that cannabis remains on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List and that Canadian sport organizations and athletes have ongoing responsibilities in relation to their anti-doping obligations under the Sport Support and the Athlete Assistance programs.
Restrictions on the promotion of cannabis are intended to protect youth from being persuaded through marketing or advertising to consume cannabis. At the same time, adult consumers need access to clear, objective information on which they can make informed decisions about consumption. Therefore, the legislation permits information-type promotion - in other words, factual, accurate information about cannabis products (ingredients, THC and CBD levels, etc.). Information that allows consumers to tell the difference between brands is also permitted. In all cases, these types of promotion are only allowed where they cannot be seen by youth, and can only be undertaken by persons authorized under the Cannabis Act.
Of particular interest for sport organizations, events, facilities and athletes are prohibitions on several types of promotional activities (s. 16-24 of the Cannabis Act), such as promotion :
that could be considered appealing to youth;
through testimonials, or endorsements;
using the depictions of persons, characters, or animals, whether real or fictional;
presented in a way that evokes emotions about a way of life such as glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring; and
that is false or misleading
There are also other prohibitions including on sponsorship and naming of facilities, inducements such as providing gifts, contents or discounts, promotions that may imply health or cosmetic benefits could be derived, associations with alcoholic beverages, tobacco and vaping products, among others. Refer to the Promotions Prohibitions Fact Sheet and the Cannabis Act and Cannabis Regulations for more information.
As a matter of policy, Sport Canada requires that national amateur sport bodies and athletes funded in part by the federal government not enter into sponsorship arrangements with the cannabis products industry. Consistent with the Federal Government Policy on Tobacco Sponsorship of National Sport Organizations, the federal government will withhold all funds from national amateur sport organizations associating in any sponsorship, promotional or other financial support arrangements (e.g. advertising) with the cannabis products industry for events or programs predominantly involving amateur athletes.
It is important to note that cannabis (natural and synthetic cannabinoids) remains on WADA Prohibited List for in-competition use with the exception of cannabidiol. The Canadian Anti-Doping Program (CADP) administered by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) adheres to WADA’s Prohibited List, an international standard under the World Anti-Doping Code. As with all prohibited substances, athletes subject to the CADP can avoid violations by abstaining from cannabis use during their athletic careers. Athletes will be held strictly liable for any prohibited substance that is found in their sample. The CCES has developed a Cannabis in Sport website for athletes and support personnel to navigate the cannabis legislation and its impact on sport. For additional information about prohibition, medical exemptions, and other substance-related inquiries related to anti-doping in sport, please email the CCES at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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