Do’s and Don’ts for Cannabis Photography in 2021

Canada’s legalization of cannabis has caused a massive surge in the cannabis market in the past couple years, and companies are capitalizing on this opportunity with cannabis product photography and other related types of content creation.

While it may seem like you can just take any type of photo of your product, the provincial regulatory bodies must approve images before you are allowed to use them. 

Let’s start with a quick definition of the governing bodies that regulate cannabis product photos. 

First, we have GS1, which stands for Global Standards 1. “[I]t is a not-for-profit organization that develops and maintains global standards for business communication.” The most notable of these standards are for the barcode.

Next we have the main provincial regulators in Canada:

The AGLC (Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commision), regulates alcoholic beverages, recreational cannabis and gaming related activities in Alberta. 

The SQDC (Société Québécoise du Cannabis / Québec Cannabis Corporation) is a subsidiary of the government, owned by SAQ (Quebec Alcohol Corporation) has a legislated monopoly on the sale of recreational cannabis within the province of Quebec. 

Next we have OCS (Ontario Cannabis Store/ Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation). It oversees online retail of recreation and cannabis to consumers, and wholesale distribution in Ontario. 

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) oversees liquor and non-medical cannabis regulations. These are the rules and laws that govern B.C.’s private retail sale of liquor and non-medical cannabis.

Another notable one is the BCLDB (British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch). The governmental body responsible for distributing alcohol and cannabis products in BC.


Now that we have an understanding of who regulates these photos, we have to talk about how you shouldn’t take photos. 

According to the Cannabis Act your content cannot induce or provoke viewers with the lifestyle associated with the product, so no pictures of cannabis at a party or social gathering.

  • While this is an excellent photo the Act and regulators would reject this as a potential promotional cannabis photo because it induces partying, smoking, gambling, etc. to the audience, which is prohibited by the Cannabis Act

So when wanting to make your content look interesting, make sure you keep the backgrounds abstract and colourful.


Each regulatory body, along with the GS1, has special requirements that cannabis product photos must meet. 


  • must clearly show the barcode on the packaging
  • must have a clipping path (tool used to remove background from an image) made for each of the products 


  • one shot must show all contents of the final product that the consumers receive
  • products must be on a white background 


  • any bags / pouches holding the product must appear full
  • products must be on a transparent background


  • all images to have 32px margin
  • products must be on a white background 


  • must show all contents from the final product that the consumers receive 
  • products must be on a transparent background 

ALL regulators require 15 degree elevation in camera angle.


  • Since this product is sold in Ontario, the OCS and GS1 guidelines apply to this photo. It meets all the requirements from both regulators; for GS1 the barcode is shown, there is a clipping path, and for OCS there is a 32 pixel margin and the product is on a white background

Gotham Studios has been providing cannabis product images since 2018, so if you don’t want to deal with the headache of all the rules, leave it to us!

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