You may be able to buy cannabis-infused products and beverages after October 2019 – legally.
Recreational cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17, making it the world’s second largest country to fully legalise cannabis. However, only dried and fresh cannabis, oil, plants and seeds are allowed to be sold, possessed and used under the legislation. Edibles in any form, like sweets and brownies, are still illegal to be sold for recreational use - at least, until next October.
Potential cannabis-based edible products after legalisation
Under the Cannabis Act Canada, the sale of cannabis edibles and cannabis concentrates will be legal on or before October 17, 2019.
The second wave of legalisation
Despite the continuous prohibition of cannabis edibles, investigations have shown that they are readily available online from a dozen websites operating openly in Canada. The Liberal government hoped that cannabis legalisation would dismantle the cannabis black-market. However, with increasing demand from consumers looking to ingest marijuana without smoking, the illegal edibles business appears to be thriving as the police turn a blind eye.
Yannick Craigwell is one of the Canadian entrepreneurs, who manufacture and sell cannabis-infused cookies, fudge and brownies. This Vancouver-based producer sells cannabis goodies online through his website Treats and Treats. Similarly, many other businesses across Canada are experimenting with marijuana-laced goodies to prepare for the next year’s legalisation. Companies foresee a huge market following the predicted legalisation in 2019, while avoiding the pitfalls seen in the U.S. when marijuana edibles were legalised there.
Conservative MP (Member of Parliament) Pierre Paul-Hus said these sites must be stopped. He added teenagers could go to these sites, buy cannabis edibles and receive them at home, which could be dangerous. Normand Bourgault, a marketing professor at Université du Québec en Outaouais, said that these products come with no warnings and the contents of these marijuana edibles are unknown to buyers, which put them at high risk of consuming harmful products containing life-threatening substances or chemicals.
Bill Blair, the minister responsible for cannabis legalization in the Trudeau government, said he would bring in proper regulation for manufacturing, distribution and use of cannabis edibles within 12 months, which would require sellers to clearly show the potency of any edible available for sale. He said the products should also contains health warnings and proper instructions to protect consumers.
Producers and consumers looking forward to the legalisation of edible cannabis are calling it the second wave of legalisation.
Canada’s approach to cannabis edibles in contrast with Colorado
In Colorado, there were no restrictions when cannabis edibles hit stores in 2014. Consequently, the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center received 87 cannabis exposure calls about children that year, doubling the previous year’s total.
The growing number of cases pushed the state to introduce regulations in 2015 and edibles must now have child-resistant packaging that includes a universal symbol. The products must also be divided into servings of 10 or fewer milligrams of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). Cannabis products can’t be shaped like fruit, animals, or people.
Tammy Jarbeau, a spokeswoman at Health Canada, said that since edibles look like normal food and the effects take longer to be experienced, there is a risk of accidental over-consumption by kids and pets. These two issues indicate the need for strict regulations and control on the amount of THC in cannabis edibles. It also points to the need for measures to ensure that edibles are appropriately labelled and packaged.
Health Canada is considering mandating a standardised cannabis symbol on labels and banning ingredients, flavouring agents and product forms that appeal to children. Previously introduced regulations already require marijuana products to be in child-resistant packaging.Following the legalisation of recreational use, cannabis sales reached $43 million in just the first two weeks of legalisation, according to Statistics Canada. The demand for cannabis has increased since that time.
A 2018 survey conducted by Deloitte suggested that six out of 10 Canadian consumers would choose pot edibles over products intended for smoking. Legalisation of cannabis edibles and infused beverages may lead to increased demand as consumers might choose to eat and drinking the products over smoking the drug as they find edibles to be more socially accepted.