Company: NCE LImited
Final Decision: 21 June 2000
Considered under the 2nd Edition of the Code
“Under 3.1(d), the brand name and labelling [of Cannabis – The Beer] suggests an association with illicit drugs.”
The Scottish Council on Alcohol
Under Code paragraph 3.1(d)
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel considered that the brand name of the product was in fact the name of an illicit drug and that the product therefore made a direct allusion to illicit drugs in contravention of paragraph 3.1(d). In addition, the Panel took the view that the prominent use of a cannabis style leaf on the front label constituted an indirect allusion to the illicit drug cannabis.
The Panel noted that “Cannabis – The Beer” had been registered as an EC trade mark, that he product had been cleared by Customs and Excise and that the company was awaiting clearance from the Home Office. However, the Panel did not consider these factors to be relevant because the Code specifically prohibits any allusion to illicit drugs.
The Panel also noted Heaven-Bräu’s statements that their distribution partners in Italy had “all rights for fully legal importation of [the] product usign the leaf labelling and brand name” and that in Germany permission had been granted for production and distribution of the product with the brand name “Cannabis”. However, the Panel did not consider the position overseas to be relevant under the Code, which applies to alcoholic beverages sold in the UK. In the Panel’s view the references made by Heaven-Bräu to the perfume Opium and the soft drink Coke-a-Cola were also irrelevant given that the Code applies to alcoholic beverages and not to other products. Hence the Panel upheld the complaint under paragraph 3.1(d) of the Code.
Action by company
The Portman Group have been advised by the company that they are currently in the process of selling stocks held in the UK. A Retailer Alert Bulletin has been issued asking retailers not to replenish stocks of the product with its existing name with immediate effect.