Dolphins ditch cannabis sponsor from jerseys but NRL club keeps Alternaleaf deal | NRL

The Dolphins will continue their sponsorship arrangement with medicinal cannabis clinic Alternaleaf, despite the club following the advice from the national medicines regulator and dropping the company logo from its jerseys.

The company had been revealed as a sponsor for the Dolphins in March in a deal described as an Australian-first, and the company’s name was to be displayed on the upper chest of playing shirts this season.

But in April, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) warned the Dolphins they may be in breach of advertising laws.

The club hastily dropped all public links to the company, and the TGA issued a statement on Friday confirming the Dolphins had agreed to scrap Alternaleaf branding.

“We are pleased that the Dolphins club has taken action to ensure any materials visible to the public during their games, including jerseys and signages, do not directly or indirectly promote the use or supply of medicinal cannabis,” head of the TGA Professor Anthony Lawler said.

However, Alternaleaf says it remains committed to the Dolphins partnership.

“Nothing has changed from early April, when Alternaleaf branding was covered on Dolphins NRL assets by the team as a precautionary measure,” said Alternaleaf spokesperson Kelly King.

“We continue to work with the Dolphins in other ways, and greatly value the ongoing partnership we have with them.”

Ahead of the Dolphins’ match against Parramatta in Darwin in April, the club removed references to Alternaleaf from its website, and taped over the logo. Much of the tape peeled away during the match, drawing attention to the issue.

Since then, the club has applied a blank heat press patch to cover the branding on its jerseys.

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At around the time of its advice to the Dolphins, the TGA commenced legal proceedings in the federal court against Alternaleaf’s parent company Montu over alleged unlawful advertising.

The relationship between the TGA and the company has been tested in recent years.

Alternaleaf’s parent company Montu took the federal government to court in November last year, claiming interlocutory relief and damages for allegedly poor handling of the transition of an electronic prescription IT system. The judge found in favour of the government.

In documents submitted to the court, Alternaleaf claims to have more than 100,000 patients, including 36,000 diagnosed with chronic pain, and more than 30,000 with anxiety.

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