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Canada Unveils New Packaging Regulations

Canada’s legalized marijuana must be sold with plain packaging and health warnings, while smaller producers face strict limits on crop sizes, according to draft rules released in advance of legalization.

Among other proposals, symbols can’t be larger than the government’s obligatory warning that’s shaped like a stop sign. The federal government said it plans to license “micro” growers if they restrict their crop area to 200 square meters, or about 2,150 square feet.

The Trudeau government's proposals include restrictions on the color of packaging and the depiction of branding, requirements for mandatory warning labels and a ban on packaging designed to appeal to young people.

The regulations state cannabis packaging can't display florescent or metallic colours and the colours that are used must contrast with those of the official cannabis symbol — meant to warn the consumer about the presence of marijuana's active ingredients — and the yellow background of the Health Canada warnings.

The proposed restrictions also stipulate that only one additional branding element – aside from the brand name itself – can be displayed on the tamper-proof and child-proof packaging. If that additional element is a slogan, the lettering can't be bigger than the font of the health warning, while any logo must be the same size or smaller as the standardized cannabis symbol.

The federal government is also banning inserts inside the cannabis packages themselves — a rule meant to prevent producers and processors from getting around the limits on branding and marketing.

The proposed rules were released to give companies extra time to prepare, according to the documents. Parliament must still give final approval to the legalization bill, with the market expected to open sometime this summer.

“Consistent with the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation’s recommendation to require plain packaging of cannabis products, the regulations would set strict requirements related to the use of branding, logos, and colors,” Health Canada said in the report from Ottawa.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government hoped to legalize marijuana by July, the fate of the law’s passage remains unclear because of delays in the unelected Senate. Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said in February the Senate might pass the bill by June and the market could be open eight to 12 weeks after that.

Senators have said they need extra time to evaluate how legal marijuana will affect law enforcement and U.S. relations.

Canada Unveils New Packaging Regulations

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