Edibles Emerging as Political Flashpoint in Cannabis Bill

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Edibles emerging as political flashpoint in cannabis bill

The question of how Canadians will be able to consume their legal cannabis next year is turning into an early point of contention as Parliamentarians begin their study of Bill C-45, the Liberal government’s cannabis legalization bill.

Opposition parties are raising public health concerns about the prospect of forcing people to consume marijuana solely by smoking it — and the government’s own task force head has said that if the bill is missing anything, it’s provisions for edible cannabis products.

Federal officials confirmed Monday that on July 1, 2018, day one of the new legal regime for recreational marijuana use in Canada, sales of edibles — marijuana or THC baked or infused into food or drink — won’t be legal. But the legislation does “contemplate” opening up sales of edibles in the future once regulations are drafted, Health Canada officials told the House of Commons standing committee on health.

NDP health critic Don Davies said the lack of provision for legal edible marijuana sales next year shows the legislation isn’t complete, and suggested the bill raises quality control issues by leaving it up to Canadians to bake their own at home.

“Here we are, on day one on C-45 and already we’re establishing that there are gaping holes in this legislation,” he told reporters after the morning committee hearings.

“The only form of consumable marijuana this will legalize is the most unhealthy way you can ingest marijuana, which is to smoke it.”

Canadian licensed producers of medical cannabis also have been calling for regulations on edibles in their committee submissions, arguing that their absence leaves a popular market space open to the black market.

Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu — who opposes legalization — said the government will need to address edibles because of public health concerns, but it should instead “take [its] time and think about it.”

“This arbitrary date of legalizing by July 1st is just causing us to have gaps in the legislation that we need to fill responsibly and standardly across the country,” she told reporters Monday.

“We want to get people off smoking in general. We’ve spent billions of dollars to get people off of tobacco smoke. Now we’re going to encourage cannabis smoking which is five times as toxic? No. There are other ways to take it — oil form, pill form, and edibles are very popular.

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