Article by Bill Kaufmann, Growth Op
Playing the role of sativa Santa this year would have been a merry prospect, said Calgary candy-maker Brad Churchill.
But federal regulator Health Canada’s meticulously measured approach in approving production of licensed cannabis snacks and other derivatives has put those edible elves on hold.
“It’s disappointing in the standpoint of not having it in the stores for the holiday season,” said Churchill, owner of Choklat.
“(Federal approvals are) taking longer than it really should but, at the end of the day, the wheels of progress are grinding.”
In one way, the gradual rollout of the next generating of legal cannabis products — which were officially legalized Oct. 17 — comes as a relief, said Churchill.
His Calgary factory already has its hands full meeting a massively increased demand for conventional chocolates, he said.
“Having to produce cannabis chocolate bars would be like a bomb going off in my facility,” said Churchill.
Health Canada said it has issued amended licences to 48 processors hoping to enter the new market.
The earliest the province’s booze and cannabis wholesaler/regulator will be able to order those cannabis derivatives is Dec. 16, which means the products won’t be in stores until some time in January, said Heather Holmen with Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC).
“The majority of products from the onset will likely be vapes, chocolates and beverages,” Holmen said in an email.
Other forms, such as soaps, scrubs, other inhalables and hash, will follow, she added.
Churchill said he expects to be shipping out cannabis-infused products in January from a factory with a capacity to produce 30,000 chocolate bars and 40,000 sugar packs a day.
“I’m hoping to capitalize on Valentine’s Day sales,” he said.
But he said the time-consuming, exorbitant cost of the federal approvals process continues to be a boon for the black market, which is free to fill stocking stuffers with potent treats peddled from often slick websites.
“People are wondering why cannabis stores are more expensive than the black market,” said Churchill.
Ideally, Jason Andrews said he’d be the purveyor of sweets packed with extra holiday cheer this December.
But the supervisor at Bow Cannabis, at 6305 Bowness Rd. N.W., said his store has a way around the late arrival of the legal goodies.
“It’s a bit disappointing but we’re selling gift cards for exactly that, in the new year,” said Andrews.
“We have a lot of people questioning us about edibles, who end up buying something anyway.”
That new line of products would have added colour to his store’s inventory and boosted revenues, he said.
“It’s going to do wonders for business, the sky’s the limit,” said Andrews.
“If some of the cannabis isn’t aesthetically pleasing, they can put it into edibles and it can look beautiful.”