Cannabis that is available in a wide range of infused foods and beverages are typically referred to as “edibles”. These products can be made with different types of cannabis, with varying levels of THC and CBD, resulting in different intensities and effects. Currently, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Marijuana Regulations (ACMPR) allows patients to make their own edible products for personal consumption, using medical cannabis accessed through their prescription.
If the Cannabis Act becomes law, edibles will also be legalized for recreational use. This would start the branching out of other business opportunities for cannabis, where product development and researches would take place to infused cannabis into food items. It has been announced by Health Canada that edibles will be included in the regulations as another class of cannabis form and would be permitted within the following year to allow time for the development of specific regulations to address the unique risks posed by cannabis-infused food.
The Task Force has taken precautionary measures by drawing various learnings of how edibles are being legally regulated in some US states. They have provided recommendations on the safety criteria should be delegated for this class of cannabis. Schedule 3 of the proposed Cannabis Act outlines a dried cannabis equivalency amount chart as a conversion reference for the other classes of cannabis. According to that chart, “solids containing cannabis” would be the category edibles would fall under for an equivalency amount of 15 grams to 1 gram of dried cannabis. This conversion matches the reported edible equivalency the Task Force had stated is also the case for Colorado and Washington, USA. Packaging limits for edibles will probably be set to a maximum of 450 grams if we do the math using the proposed limit of up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent per single package of the product.
The inevitable challenges will be to differentiate between cannabis edibles and cannabis-free food items, and the various risks of being attractive to children. With this in mind, some factors the government will consider for the regulation of edibles will be a clear standardized cannabis symbol as a warning of its presence, with health warnings similar to tobacco packages, so that it is clearly distinguishable from a “normal” food item.
Additionally, the packaging and labelling for edibles will have a visually plain approach. Any edibles packaging that closely resembles an attractive food or beverage, including candies or sweets, or is added with sweeteners or flavours will be prohibited to be sold.
In summary, on the basis of the risk of exposure to children, the packaging and labelling requirements being considered must include:
• A standard serving size (10 mg of THC or less)
• A maximum amount of THC per unit of product
• A standardized cannabis symbol
• Clear labelling of the amount of THC on packages
• Child-resistant, opaque and re-sealable packaging
• No promotional graphics, images, colours, representatives, or text
It’s apparent the proposed Cannabis regulations have been substantially addressed from the learnings of the Task Force from other jurisdictions managing recreational cannabis, so the overall result of how legalization of the different forms will roll out in Canada will most likely have similar statistics.
One of the biggest advantages that will gear consumers towards opting for the cannabis edible products is that they offer an alternative from the associated harms of smoking and also the stigmas attached to smoking cannabis.
Edibles are very popular in jurisdictions where cannabis is sold legally for recreational use in many US states. It has been reported that edibles constituted 13% of sales in Washington State in 2016. In 2016, edibles sold in Oregon, Washington and Colorado were valued at $269.8M USD. The Canadian government intends to authorize the legal sale of cannabis edible products in 2019. The demand for unregulated edibles sold in Vancouver and California is very high. Federal legalization of cannabis edibles will be a major catalyst for the growth of the cannabis industry in Canada.
dicentra Cannabis Consulting is Canada’s leading professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for the cannabis industry.