While cannabis may be slowly becoming part of Canadian life, the province of Quebec is putting limits on the edibles that citizens can buy. Edibles are currently not available in Canada to buy until October 17, 2019, but Quebeckers will not be able to partake with the government citing concerns of it being easier for children to consume.
The French-Canadian province is banning “chocolate, candies, confectionery, desserts and other products that are attractive to minors,” according to Radio Canada.
Solid food or candies with cannabis cannot contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) greater than 5 mg per piece and 10 mg per total package, while for liquids, the limit will be 5 mg per total package. Although edibles will be allowed starting October, federal license holders are required to give 60 days notice if they plan on selling edibles, so it is expected that they will not hit shelves until December.
These aren’t the only measures being placed on the province as the Quebec government is “limiting the THC content of cannabis products to under 30%, prohibiting additives or substances to improve the taste and smell of vape products, and banning the sale of topical products.”
Three new classes of marijuana will be hitting shelves later this year with edibles (candy, baked goods), cannabis extracts and cannabis "topicals" (ointments, oils, makeup) previously being prohibited until lawmakers could come to a consensus on how they will be regulated.
Discussion on the products began during the initial legalization process in Canada in October 2018, however, it wasn’t until earlier this February that lawmakers came to an agreement for overall rules. Since then, some cities and provinces like Quebec have decided to try and become stricter and increase regulations.
Is It The Right Move?
While many say the enhanced restrictions will keep children away from cannabis, detractors are saying the opposite will probably occur and that overall the population will suffer. Samantha Gold, who suffers from chronic back pain, told the CBC that she was hopeful that the new cannabis topicals will relieve some of the pain she deals with every day.
"To just ban it arbitrarily without having pain patients in the conversation is not very fair to us." Lionel Carmant, a junior health minister for the Quebec Government, said they believe the new products have no place in recreational shops "The topical creams are usually a medicinal use, so we don't think they should be sold at the [Société québécoise du cannabis]," Carmant told CBC.
When talking to Radio Canada, Jean-Sébastien Fallu, an associate professor at the School of Psychoeducation at the University of Montreal, said that the government should look at the American states that have recreational marijuana and learn from them. Citing the poor preparation of Colorado’s legalization of edible products, Fallu said that it was the lack of education that really hurt people.
“By banning completely, I am not sure that we will protect [children]. People can buy it over the Internet or at home with varying THC levels,” Fallu said. “We take consumers as people who are not capable of responsible behavior. We also forget that cannabis users are not all parents and those who are parents are not irresponsible parents. We do not trust citizens and consumers.”
Considering how over 70 percent of the marijuana market in Canada is illegal, Fallu says that restrictions on marijuana will most likely push the edible market into the black market, circumventing one of the main reasons for legalizing it in the first place.
With restrictions and prohibition attitudes, it wouldn’t be far off to see a future where the legal market is full of weak and limited supplies, while the stronger stuff stays on the streets.
The Future Of Edibles
While edibles and topicals are indefinitely banned, it is not permanent. With increased education, change may come naturally as more and more people gain their own thoughts and opinions. Health Canada is expected to spend over $100 million dollars on marijuana education efforts over the next six years.
"Inevitably, that communication and education is going to be more nuanced and subtle," David Hammond, a professor in the school of public health at the University of Waterloo, told the CBC. While Canada, and most other drug awareness campaigns, come from the angle of “stay away from it,” the new outlook will most likely do away with that thinking.
Instead, many health officials want people to know exactly what will happen and the best way for people to stay safe. Mostly pointed at younger audiences, the messaging will attempt to educate those on how cannabis can hurt, and help people, while making sure that there is no confusion.
The current campaigns are mostly on social media and at places like festivals where younger crowds congregate.
"You're going to see that some of these campaigns are going to fall on their face and some of them will do quite well, but they'll all contribute to the discussion and that's a good thing," Hammond said.