It’s been one year since recreational cannabis became legal in Canada, and now, legalization 2.0 has finally arrived in the Great White North. Despite recreational legalization back in 2018, across the country, cannabis-infused products, collectively termed derivatives, have remained illegal. A memo released by Health Canada last summer outlined the coming changes that are just now taking effect, including “a limited selection of products [that] will appear eventually in physical or online stores, and no earlier than mid-December 2019.”
During that time, residents were limited to using the flower form of cannabis, most often consumed by smoking.
The country’s amended cannabis law will also allow for the sale of cannabis-infused beverages, concentrates, topicals, and more.
In agreement with strictly enforced regulations, each cannabis-infused product will be allowed to contain up to 10 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per single-serving package.
Under the new legislation, restaurants and other establishments serving food will be prohibited from serving cannabis derivatives.
Branding will also have to conform to health agency requirements. Products that appeal to children will be strongly prohibited, and each cannabis-infused item will have to be marked with a specific symbol denoting THC.
Aside from valid criticism over wasteful packaging, regulation of cannabis derivatives could pose many benefits, reassuring the public following a wave of alleged vape related deaths.
CEO of Namaste Technologies, Meni Morim, discussed the issue of regulation in a recent interview with Cannabis Business Times, saying, “Because concentrates and edibles will be a brand new form of cannabis to millions of Canadians, both regulators and retailers will need to dial-in on the explanations and conversations around ingesting and dosing.”
Going on, said Morim, “Once extracts are processed, their quality will be equal or greater to their illicit market counterparts. In the illicit market, a lot of companies are using fillers like glycerin, MCT oil or vitamin E acetate, while licensed producers are held to a standard and only have 100-percent distillate, which allows us to put higher quality products right out of the gate.”
Don’t expect to be able to buy a pot brownie in Vancouver next week, though.
Due to delays in production, consumers should see edible and infused cannabis products appearing on license dispensary shelves by mid-December.
Greg Engel, Chief Executive of Organigram, one of Canada’s leading licensed producers of medical and recreational cannabis, had this to say regarding the delay: “We’ve been working towards this timeline, and one of the things we have learned since last year is that you want to have sufficient inventory before going to market. If we had launched any earlier, we would have been prepared but we would have launched with fewer products. In December, we will have some of our edible products ready.”
Importantly, alcohol-based cannabis-infused products will still be illegal.