The Saskatchewan Independent Cannabis Retailers Network (SICRN) says it is unfair that their members face advertising restrictions that alcohol retailers don’t.

“By restricting what us retailers can do is just inhibiting our opportunity to win over the black market and increase awareness about cannabis,” said Jim Southam, owner and operator of one Prairie Cannabis retail store and member of SICRN.

Amendments to the federal Cannabis Act came into force Thursday and include changes to how cannabis retailers can display their branding and logos.

“We are hoping there are some changes coming but we already feel like we have our hands tied behind our back with the advertising restrictions that are in place today,” Southam said.

“It’s really putting us at a disadvantage when looking at what alcohol sales are doing. We need to try to normalize it and not make people more afraid of it.”

The legislation limits the size of brand elements and logos to 300 square centimeters on products and merchandise. The lettering on cannabis related merchandise cannot exceed four centimetres in height.

Cannabis retailers are prohibited from advertising brand elements for cannabis, cannabis accessory and service related cannabis in a school, a public playground, a daycare facility or any other public place frequented mainly by young persons or in an area that is visible from such a place.

The Prairie Cannabis retail store has merchandise such as t-shirts, sweatpants and water bottles printed with cannabis symbols that are non-compliant with the regulations. Southam said he is working with the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority to interpret the new legislation.

Cannabis retailers are not allowed to buy ads.

SICRN is a non profit public education and government relations group consisting of nine members with 11 stores.

Correction: Jim Southam owns one Prairie Cannabis retail store. An incorrect number was stated in a previous version of this story.