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The Cannabis Act and Sport

posted Oct 19, 2018, 10:19 AM by Heather MacIntosh

Given the recent legalization of recreational cannabis, the following letter lays out Sport Canada and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES)’s position regarding the government’s Cannabis Act and sport

To all National Sport Organizations (NSOs), Multisport Service Organizations (MSOs), and Canadian Sport Centres (CSCs) and Other Supporting Initiatives.


As you may be aware, the Cannabis Act (https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-24.5) came into force on October 17, 2018. The Cannabis Act is designed to better 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 recreational marijuana remains on the 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, 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 would also be permitted. In all cases, these types of promotion would only be allowed where they could not be seen by youth.


Of particular interest for sport organizations, events, facilities and athletes are restrictions on several types of promotional activities (s. 16-24 of the Cannabis Act), such as:

  • Promotion considered appealing to youth;
  • Promotion through sponsorship, testimonials, or endorsements; and
  • Promotion using the depictions of persons, celebrities, characters, or animals.


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 the World Anti-Doping Agency (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 educational information for athletes and support personnel to navigate the cannabis legislation and its impact on sport at https://cces.ca/cannabis. This includes a downloadable educational kit and information on the use of cannabis related products including medical marijuana and cannabidiol. Sport Canada encourages the sport community to use these educational resources and address any further questions on anti-doping regulations related to cannabis in sport to the CCES.


To learn more about the Cannabis Act and the health effects of cannabis, visit www.Canada.ca/Cannabis



Vicki Walker

Directrice générale | Director General
Sport Canada
Ministère du Patrimoine canadien | Department of Canadian Heritage
Gatineau, Canada K1A 0M5
Téléphone | Telephone 819-956-8153
Télécopieur | Facsimile 819-956-8006
Gouvernement du Canada | Government of Canada
Téléimprimeur (sans frais) 1-888-997-3123 / Teletypewriter (toll free) 1-888-997-3123
Gouvernement du Canada / Government of Canada


Ginette Richards

Adjointe exécutive / Executive Assistant

Bureau du directeur général, Sport Canada

Office of the Director General, Sport Canada

Patrimoine canadien / Canadian Heritage

Gatineau, Canada, K1A 0M5


Téléphone / telephone 819-956-8151

Télécopieur / Facsimile 819-956-8006