Though it seems like it’s just a matter of time until mail-order marijuana is legal in Canada, rules on edibles are still a bit hazy.
A quick stop at Vancouver’s annual 4/20 celebration reveals the increasing popularity of edible weed treats.
Weed cookies, brownies and gummy bears are common. Oils, butters and even creams are now popular.
Though some companies already offer marijuana edibles for sale online through “discreet” shipping, it’s not yet legal.
Under Canada’s current cannabis for medical purposes system, the government permits only dried and fresh cannabis and cannabis oils. But that’s expected to change once the new regulations are formally adopted.
The government’s marijuana task force, which laid out 80 recommendations for legalizing weed, notes how popular edibles have become.
“Extending far beyond the dried cannabis popularized in the 1960s and 1970s, today’s cannabis is available in a wide range of cannabis-infused foods, cooking oils and drinks (typically referred to as ‘edibles’), oils, ointments, tinctures, creams and concentrates (e.g., butane hash oil, resins, waxes, and ‘shatter’),” notes the task force’s report.
Lessons On Selling Edibles From The U.S.
Since legalizing cannabis, the states of Colorado and Washington have seen sustained growth in their cannabis edibles markets, the task force report found.
In Colorado, sales of cannabis-infused edibles in the first quarter of 2015 were up 134 per cent from the same period in the previous year.
Through its research, the task force learned that of the 1,969 cases of cannabis exposures in children under the age of six reported in the National Poison Data System in the United States between 2000 and 2013, 75 per cent were exposed through ingestion.
That led to careful consideration of how to keep children safe. The Canadian task force recommended standard service sizes on products, a maximum amount of THC per item, clear labelling, text warning labels and child-resistant resealable packaging.
And, the task force considered labeling requirements that apply to food and beverage products.
“Such requirements have become the best practice for other U.S. states that have legalized,” the report notes.
“Should edibles be allowed for legal sale in Canada, they should, at a minimum, conform to the strictest packaging and labelling requirements for edibles currently in force in U.S. states,” it adds.
Colorado officials acknowledge that a lack of regulation around edibles in the early days of legalization led to some unintended public health consequences. Their experience provided the task force with other “lessons learned.”
They are as follows:
- Expect edibles to have a broad appeal. Cannabis products such as brownies, cookies and high-end chocolates are attractive to novice users and those who do not want to smoke or inhale. Colorado’s prohibition on public smoking also gave a boost to the edibles market.
- Control for level of THC and/or portion size. In some respects, it is easier to control the amount of THC ingested when smoked or vaporized compared to when it is eaten. This is because, unlike the more immediate euphoric and other psychoactive effects produced by smoking or vaporizing cannabis, it can take several hours for THC given orally to take full effect. In Colorado, this has sometimes resulted in accidental overconsumption and overdoses. (A cannabis overdose is not known to be fatal, but can be unpleasant and potentially dangerous – including severe anxiety, nausea, vomiting, a psychotic episode, or hypotension and loss of consciousness.) Controlling the amount of THC (or other cannabinoids) in a product, as well as establishing a standardized serving size, is important to avoid or limit such incident.
- Ensure that cannabis edibles can be clearly distinguished. It can be a challenge to differentiate between cannabis edibles and cannabis-free products, leading to a risk that individuals, including children, inadvertently consume them. Since legalization of cannabis, Colorado and Washington have seen an increase in calls to poison control lines and in emergency room visits.
In Colorado, where edibles were available, there was a reported spike in overdoses after legalization. In response, the government there changed the rules to limit dosage amounts and potency.
Meanwhile, there were several arguments in favour of allowing and regulating edibles, including:
- Providing a potentially safer alternative to smoking cannabis;
- Making THC oil (the active ingredient in edibles) can be a dangerous process and should only be done in controlled facilities and not in residential areas;
- Having users create their own edibles with cannabis oil could lead to uneven distribution of THC in the product, resulting in a potential for overdose; and
- Regulation would allow for quality control over products, and for appropriate education and in-store information.
In a nutshell?
People are likely going to make their own edibles if they are not offered, and those risks are higher because potency is then, in essence, unregulated.
The task force didn’t support “mixed products,” such as cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages or cannabis products with tobacco, nicotine or caffeine.
Health Benefits Of Weed Edibles
The task force also found that allowing these products offers an opportunity to better address other health risks.
“Edible cannabis products offer the possibility of shifting consumers away from smoked cannabis and any associated lung-related harms,” the task force notes. “This is of benefit not just to the user but also to those around them who would otherwise be subject to second-hand smoke.”
But the position comes with caveats.
The task force recommends prohibiting candies and other sweets that may be appealing to children.
When Will I Be Able To Buy Weed Edibles Online?
The federal government says weed will be legal by July 1, 2018.
Stay tuned to this website for the latest announcements and updates and how you can legally buy edibles online.