In the United States, famous entertainers ranging from Tommy Chong to Willie Nelson, Whoopie Goldberg and Melissa Etheridge are hawking cannabis products. But in Canada, celebrity endorsements will be outlawed.
“I’m the most recognizable pot head, probably, in the world,” Chong told “CNNMoney.” But the native Canadian won’t be able to lend his image to help sell products, according to Bill Blair, the former Toronto police chief and point person for the nation’s cannabis policies:
The law is explicit and clear, that celebrity endorsement, lifestyle advertising is not allowed with cannabis
Blair’s warning might be news to Canadian celebrities such as the quirky actors starring in “The Trailer Park Boys” or members of the band The Tragically Hip. And just recently, KISS frontman Gene Simmons joined a Canadian cannabis firm. According to Global News in Canada, “established companies will undoubtedly be trying to find ways to get around those rules as more and more celebrities link their names to Canadian pot.”
But Blair insists the Canadian cannabis industry will be free of stars. “It’s not the government’s intention to promote the use of this drug, he Blair. “We are not allowing the heavy marketing that we’ve seen with other products, alcohol for example, and so there will be severe restrictions on things like celebrity endorsement and [company] sponsorship.” Canada is scheduled to legalize marijuana nationally this summer.
In the US, it appears every celebrity who tokes is lining up an endorsement deal. “Legalization has opened the doors to all the celebrity branding,” according to longtime cannabis journalist Steve Bloom, who runs Celebstoner.com. “It’s not surprising that all the most likely celebrities are jumping aboard.”
It’s clear that celebrities see the green rush as another way to extend their brand outside of the entertainment industry. According to New Frontier, a cannabis research firm, the US cannabis market will hit $23 billion in 2o2o.