Canadian Cannabis Regulations Update
When Bill C-45, also known as the Cannabis Act, was enacted, it regulated several classes of cannabis products including flowers, seeds, plants, and oils. Meanwhile, products like cannabis-infused edibles, creams, and extracts were still deemed illegal. But this October, all of this is set to change as these products become legal for recreational purchase. (By the way, you can use your cannabis to make topicals and edibles. Our blog has plenty of resources including recipes.)
Apart from edibles, the revisions to Bill C-45 also include significant measures around child-resistant packaging and plain labeling. The revisions will come into law on Oct. 17, 2019, marking the one-year anniversary of cannabis legalization in Canada.
History Behind Edibles Regulations in Canada
In December 2018, the Canadian government launched a 60-day public consultation to seek feedback from Canadians and a wide range of stakeholders on updates to the Cannabis Regulations to support the production and sale of edible cannabis, cannabis extract, and cannabis topicals. The feedback received was carefully reviewed and helped to develop the final changes to the Cannabis Regulations which are now being unveiled to the public.
When are Edibles legal in Canada?
To sell edibles, creams, and extracts, licensed producers must submit proposed products for approval two months before anything can be put into production. The government will then either approve or deny the application. With legislation coming into effect in October, this means that mid-December is likely the earliest any of these items will appear for sale in-store or online (just in time for Christmas).
Edibles Potency in Canada
Edible cannabis products will carry a maximum of 10 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per package. Beverages will have the same 10 mg limit, meaning a six-pack will contain less than 1.7 mg of THC per can. Government officials say this is to reduce overdosing and hospitalization as a result of overconsumption. Also, beverages infused with THC cannot contain alcohol, which was to be expected.
Edibles Laws in Canada
Edibles can’t have added vitamins, minerals, or nicotine. Edible products also cannot contain sugar, sweeteners; or come in shapes, forms, colours, or flavours that appeal to children such as any type of candies. In addition, edibles will require child-resistant packaging and plain packaging in an effort to make the products less appealing to youth and children and lower the risk of accidental consumption.
Health Canada says these rules reinforce its overall goal of reducing youth interest or accidental consumption. It is unclear the extent of enforcement that is going to follow these regulation changes; for example, we don’t know if regular cookies will be allowed while chocolate chip cookies will not. Right now, the rules remain unclear, so it is hard to speculate.
Legal Gummies and Candies?
As far as gummies, chocolates, and candies are concerned, Health Canada didn’t want to eliminate these types of products altogether, but it says approval will happen on a case-by-case basis (wonder how time-consuming that will be). This gives companies and those with an ‘entrepreneurial’ spirit (and boatloads of money) the ability to innovate within the regulations. Edibles must also be prepared on a site separate to that of any other food or cannabis facility to prevent cross-contamination. If a company is found ignoring this regulation, it can carry up to $5 million in fines. The clear loser in edibles legislation? Startup companies. As the law stands right now, it will be difficult for Canadian entrepreneurs to find their footing in the market, as access to mass amounts of regulated flower is a significant barrier.
Edibles and Packaging in Canada
Cannabis producers will not be allowed to make any claims about the potential health or nutrition benefits on product labels (so we’re safe from gluten-free, low carb, etc.), and packaging will also be required to display the standardized cannabis symbol and a health warning message. The packages, however, are now approved to have a peel-away information panel to allow for more information.
When it comes to cannabis extracts, the government says it will prohibit certain flavours that are appealing to young people; however, it’s unclear what flavours specifically will be targeted, or if cannabis granola will be the only allowable product.
When Can I Buy Edibles in Canada?
If you think you can go out on October 17th and buy some edibles; you’ll likely be disappointed. The government says federally licensed cannabis producers will need time to become familiar with and comply with the new rules to create new product lines. Producers will also need to provide Health Canada with 60 days’ notice of new products.
What Do I Need to Know About Consuming Cannabis Edibles?
Along with the new regulations, the government has issued several cautionary statements about consuming cannabis, especially when it comes to “double-dosing” – taking twice as much cannabis as originally intended. This is more likely to happen when consuming edibles than it is smoking cannabis. Because it can take up to 4 hours to feel the full effects of edible cannabis, consuming more within this time period can result in overconsumption and adverse effects.
What are your thoughts on the new edibles legislation? Is this a great first step, or a step in the wrong direction? For the latest up-to-date news about cannabis subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media.