Article by Vanmala Subramaniam, Financial Post
Canada will embark on its second wave of cannabis legalization — which will see edibles, concentrates and topicals become available for recreational consumption to the public — on October 17, 2019, almost a year after the government first legalized cannabis dried flower and oils. But government officials expect that only a limited selection of products will appear in physical or online stores “no earlier than mid-December 2019”.
Under the current regulations, cannabis producers must notify Health Canada 60 days in advance of their plans to sell new products. The department will start accepting new product applications from Oct. 17 of this year.
“Provincially or territorially authorized distributors and retailers will also need time to purchase and obtain the new products and make them available for sale,” officials said on a technical briefing with the media Friday afternoon.
Despite a four-month consultation period with the public and industry stakeholders to evaluate the draft regulations that came out last December, there were no major changes to the kinds of products that would be made legal, and the THC content in those products.
The government’s final regulations for edibles sets a strict limit of 10 milligrams of THC in a “single-serving”, while concentrates (usually consumed using devices like vape pens) will have a limit of 1,000 milligrams of THC per package. Cannabis topicals, like lotions, balms and oils that are absorbed through the skin usually for pain relief or inflammation will also have a limit of 1,000 milligrams of THC per package.
The government reiterated its restrictions on advertising these products, specifically noting that products must not be “appealing to kids”, and contain no health claims. In addition, there should be no elements in a product that could associate it with alcoholic beverages, or brands of alcohol. It is still unclear as to whether beer brewed from the cannabis plant — a patented recipe that Canadian start-up Province Brands has been marketing for over two years now — will be allowed.
“There’s still a little bit of confusion around ingredients, and the limitations on some of the shapes of these products. Cupcakes and other sweet treats, for example, will definitely have an appeal to younger people,” said Lucas McCann, of cannabis consulting firm CannDelta Inc.
“All products containing THC will carry standardized symbols and contain a warning message. Cannabis cannot be manufactured in the same facility where regular food products are manufactured,” officials added.
A single “serving” of cannabis edibles can contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC, which means that whether or not there are 10 cookies in a packet or just one cookie for example, the THC content will remain the same, officials said.
“It’s unfortunate despite extensive industry consultations and feedback, HC has ignored extremely environmentally unfriendly packaging restrictions into the final regulations” said Deepak Anand, industry advisory and CEO of Materia Ventures.