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Matt Maurer speaks to The Leaf about why city cannabis stores' loyalty-points program may not be legal

Legal experts are questioning whether a customer loyalty program offered by a Manitoba cannabis retailer violates federal law, which places strict limits on inducements to buy marijuana.

Garden Variety operates two cannabis stores in Winnipeg. The company lets registered customers earn points on cannabis purchases, which can be redeemed for discounts on cannabis, cannabis accessories and shipping charges. Customers can also earn points for reviewing products on the Garden Variety website, or for celebrating a birthday, sharing posts about Garden Variety on social media or referring friends to create accounts.

Federal cannabis regulator Health Canada reviewed a general description of the loyalty program, and said it couldn't comment on the specific situation. But "in general, rewards programs are not permitted under the Cannabis Act," department spokesman Geoffroy Legault-Thivierge wrote in a statement.

Garden Variety believes the rewards program is legal because it doesn't give away cannabis or accessories.

Matt Maurer, vice-chair of our Cannabis Law Group, commented that he thinks Garden Variety's rewards initiative could be construed as a violation of the law.

"If you're providing points, which is something, and that's being provided as an inducement to buy cannabis, then arguably you've got a problem," said Maurer, a partner with Torkin Manes LLP in Toronto who practises commercial cannabis law.

To read the complete article, please visit The Leaf.

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