Experts say Ottawa faces tricky balancing act on marketing of legal cannibus

Experts say the federal government faces a tricky balancing act on marketing when it legalizes cannabis next July.

Large licensed producers say branding is necessary to convince Canadians to switch to the legal market.

But public health advocates want plain packaging and strict advertising limits.

The Cannabis Act would ban promotions that appeal to youth, contain false statements or depict characters, celebrities or animals.

It would allow ads that present facts or promote brand preference.

But they could only be shown in places where youth are not allowed, or broadcast if reasonable steps have been taken to ensure they can't be accessed by a young person.

Brendan Kennedy, president of licensed producer Tilray, says the rules open the door to brand prohibition, which would undercut the legal market.

Rebecca Jesseman of the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction says overall the regulations are positive, but the restrictions on branding should be more clear.