Cannabis in Canada Pt 9

Cannabis in Canada: A Primer. Part Nine.

Part Nine: The Future of Edibles

Edibles are a major part of the cannabis market and must be a focus when considering legalization. Cannabis-infused food and Canadian consumers’ willingness to consider recreational marijuana as a food ingredient, a study led by Dr. Sylvain Charlebois at Dalhousie University, reported that 46% of Canadians would try cannabis-infused food products if they became available on the market. Thirty-nine percent are likely to try it in a restaurant, but only 20% said they know enough about cooking with marijuana to do it at home. However, 59% worry about the risk that legalizing the use of recreational marijuana poses for children and young adults who will have increased access to it. Only one quarter of respondents believed it would replace an alcoholic drink.

However, the many formulations of cannabis extracts used in edibles present a unique regulatory challenge for policy makers. Little research has evaluated how ingestion differs from other methods of cannabis administration in terms of therapeutic efficacy, subjective effects, and safety. The most prominent difference between ingestion and inhalation of cannabis extracts is the delayed onset of drug effect with ingestion.

In 2017, the Standing Committee on Health voted for and passed two amendments to the Act: the first to add edibles containing cannabis to the types of cannabis that an authorized person may sell; second, that the addition of edibles must occur within one year of the Act coming into force. However, edibles are currently widely available in Canada, primarily through dispensaries and over the internet. Additionally, edibles are available in Toronto, for example, at pop-up private events. Of course, edibles sold on the black market vary in quality.

The task force recommended that there should be a prohibition on any edibles that are appealing to children. This might include candies and sweets, or edibles in the shapes of fruits, animals, or humans. It was also recommended that Canada adopt strict packaging and labelling requirements that include information about the standard serving size, the amount of THC per product, and child-resistant packaging.

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Photo credit: Alisa Anton from Unsplash.

- By Heather Webster