By Steve Elliott
Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose on Saturday ordered a crackdown on groups that illegally advertise marijuana, and repeated the Conservative Party's promise to keep storefront dispensaries illegal on the eve of the launch of a federal election campaign.
"Today I directed Health Canada to create a task force to crack down on illegal marijuana advertising," Ambrose said, reports Morgan Lowrie of The Canadian Press. "This task force will ensure that those who engage in such illegal activities are stopped, and should these illegal activities continue, promptly referred to law enforcement."
Health Canada will begin actively monitoring cannabis advertising instead of acting mostly on the basis of complaints, the agency announced. Under current law, only licensed producers of marijuana are allowed to advertise basic, non-promotional information.
Health Canada said it will issue compliance letters in cases where violations are identified. The department said it will also be more active in working with businesses to make sure they are aware of the rules around advertising cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Businesses and individual Canadians will be provided an opportunity to file complaints about illegal advertising for follow-up, according to Health Canada.