Health Canada has recently announced that Canadians can anticipate the ability to purchase a “limited variety” of cannabis-infused edibles, cannabis extracts, vaporizable concentrates and cannabis topicals in legal stores no earlier than mid-December 2019.
On October 17, 2019, edibles will become legal in Canada (exactly one year after the first recreational cannabis store opened), however it will take time for these new cannabis products to become available for purchase.
DETAILS REGARDING NEW CANNABIS PRODUCTS AVAILABILITY
According to a new report published by Deloitte entitled “Nurturing New Growth: Canada Gets Ready for Cannabis 2.0”, it is estimated that the new cannabis products are worth approximately $2.7 billion annually (with edibles accounting for more than half of that amount). A number of new products, such as beverages infused with cannabidiol, will likely not be available until 2020, with the majority of products making their way to market in 2021.
According to the law, federal licence holders must provide 60-days notice to Health Canada of their intention to sell new cannabis products.
According to the Health Canada news release:
…as with any new regulatory framework, federally licensed processors will need time to become familiar with and prepare to comply with the new rules and to produce new products.
The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction stated:
The amended regulations are the next step in our process to reduce the risks to public health and safety from edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals and displace the illegal market for these products in Canada. We are committed to working closely with the provinces and territories as well as industry in the weeks ahead to prepare for effective implementation of these new regulations.
REGULATIONS FOR ADDITIONAL CANNABIS PRODUCTS
The regulations for a single package of edibles, either food or beverage, can have no more than 10 milligrams of THC (the main psychoactive component found in cannabis). This number is 10 times less than the amount regulated by the states that have legalized marijuana, namely California, Colorado and Washington.
There are many that are complaining that this regulation will result in a lot of packaging waste, as consumers are going to need to purchase more packages of the cannabis product.
The regulations also limits extracts to be capped at 10 mg of THC per capsule or 1,000 mg per package.
Companies are also prohibited from using sweeteners, colourants or other ingredients that could “increase the appeal” for minors. Whether a product would be appealing to children will depend upon its shape, colour, flavour, scent, and packaging.
Products must only use plain packaging that is child-resistant, displays a standardized cannabis symptom and a health warning. They must not display any claims about health benefits or nutrition. Whether a product violates the regulations will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
According to the regulations, topicals (such as creams and make-up) will only be allowed 1,000 mg of THC per package.
Edibles and extract products are prohibited from containing nicotine, caffeine or alcohol, and must be safe to consume without refrigeration or freezing. They must also not be associated with alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or vaping products.
DANGER TO CHILDREN INGESTING EDIBLES
The Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program has already reported that there have been 16 cases of “adverse events” affecting children under the age of 18 involving recreational cannabis between September and December, 2018. One of these cases involved a seven-month old baby. Of these 16 cases, 6 of them involve children consuming edibles and one case of accidental exposure. All of the 16 cases involve cannabis products belonging to a parent or caregiver.
The Surveillance Program defines “adverse events” as all cases in which children are harmed by cannabis consumption. This can include injuries that may arise from the use of cannabis by another individual who is under the influence of the recreational drug.
This paediatric research is a two-year study, which will conclude in October 2020. It will monitor trends following the legalization of edibles in the fall.
Christina Grant, a paediatrician and co-principal investigator, stated:
These early results highlight the urgency of prioritizing the needs of children and youth in policy and education initiatives, especially as edibles become legalized later this year.
Last May, the Montreal Children’s Hospital published a warning to parents that cannabis intoxication was on the rise and children who accidentally ingest cannabis may experience more severe symptoms than adults. Between October 2018 and May 2019, the hospital had admitted 26 children after consuming cannabis.
Debbie Friedman, hospital trauma director, stated:
Just because cannabis is legal doesn’t mean it’s safe for consumption by children and it doesn’t mean it should just be left around where it’s easily accessible to a child who’s curious, who is very attracted to the colour of gummy bears or a chocolate bar or a hash brownie.
We will continue to provide updates regarding the legalization of cannabis in Canada as this information becomes available, and will blog about updates as they arise.
In the meantime, if you are facing a drug-related charge or have any questions concerning your legal rights, please contact Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947. We maintain a 24-hour call service to protect your rights and to ensure that you have access to justice at all times.