Article by Sylvain Charlebois, National Post
This October, cannabis-infused edibles will be fully legal on the Canadian market.
Despite claims that broader cannabis legalization would change the social, economic and cultural fabric of the country, there is little evidence to suggest that this is the case.
The government itself claimed initially that its primary intent was to legalize cannabis without normalizing it. That’s exactly what it delivered. Allowing Canadians to have access to legal cannabis while keeping the social stigma against routine marijuana use alive was arguably the result the government was looking for.
The rollout of commercially available dried cannabis flower was relatively uneventful, though shortages and high price points still allow the black market to thrive. Beyond the hoopla, nothing has significantly changed. As illegal vendors continue to prosper, the social stigma has remained, evidenced by a recent study by Dalhousie University.
This recent study released in May suggests that Canadians remain supportive of legalized cannabis, but their enthusiasm for legalized cannabis and edibles has dropped in recent months.
Now, edible cannabis policy is in the spotlight as Western countries around the globe look to capitalize on this frontier market. Canada is once again acting as a global social experiment, demonstrating to international political and business communities best and worst market practices.
Edibles are big business
Generally, consumers remain open to the edible cannabis market. In American states where cannabis is legal for recreational use, edibles account for 12 to 15 per cent of the market. In Canada, sales of cannabis-infused edible products are projected to reach $4.1 billion by 2022.
While the edible market offers opportunities for prosperity for cannabis producers and retailers, there remain challenges ahead for those looking to enter this market. Negative media portrayals have raised concerns among consumers who have yet to sample edibles. Cannabis ingestion among children presents a serious public health issue, expected to increase with the advent of legally available edible products, such as gummy candies and baked goods that appeal to kids.
Some consumers who currently want to integrate cannabis-infused food into their diets without turning to the black market for edibles — and without increasing their sugar intake — cook with cannabis. But that carries great risks that aren’t being given any consideration by regulators.