You’ll be able to buy a pot brownie in Canada by Christmas. New kinds of cannabis products are being legalized in Canada and will be hitting store shelves before the end of the year. Products including cannabis edibles, topicals, extracts, and beverages will be hitting store shelves in Canada starting mid-December.
The new regulations take effect on October 17th, and products will be available for purchase two months later. Health Canada released final details of the new regulations on June 14th.
However, Canadian officials are doing their best to discourage the idea of a cannabis shopping bonanza before Christmas. The new products won’t hit the store shelves all on one day, and the new items won’t be available in huge supplies. The country is doing the opposite of what it did when dry cannabis was legalized and rolling the new products out gradually. At first, a limited supply will be released “in small doses” in physical and online stores with limited quantities.
License holders must give Health Canada 60-days notice of their plan to sell new cannabis products, and once authorized, distributors and retailers will need time to acquire and sell new products.
Companies in Canada have been awaiting the announcement for years. Greg Boone, CEO of P.E.I.-based cannabis firm Dosecann, told the CBC that his company has been preparing for the release of cannabis edibles for three years. "That will get us into the full production of these edibles or value-added products," he said. "And the goal is to build inventory to be able to satisfy the market that we believe exists across the country for these types of products.
"Things such as vape pens—potentially topicals—and edibles such as chocolates and potentially gummies. Those types of products will eventually be rolled out."
Canada is allowing the sale of three new kinds of products: edibles (including candy, baked goods, and food), cannabis extracts (including concentrates and oils for vaping), and cannabis topicals (including ointments, oils, and makeups).
However, there are significant limitations on which kinds of these products can be sold. Products that mix cannabis with nicotine, caffeine, or tobacco will be prohibited, except for some products with naturally occurring low amounts of caffeine, like chocolate, which will be allowed.
Strict rules on the packaging are being put in place to limit the appeal of these new cannabis products to younger customers. The government will regulate products that may appeal to a younger demographic on a case by case basis, and they say they aren’t sure yet where lines will be drawn. "A gummy bear that is appealing to kids is prohibited ... and it's an offense that's punishable by very serious consequences ... five years in prison and a million dollar fine,” one official told the CBC.
The packaging and labeling must have a clear cannabis symbol, a health warning listing the product's tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) content, limited use of logos and colors, and child-resistant packaging. Cannabis also won’t be offered for sale in restaurants. You may be able to buy a pot brownie, but picking up a warm and gooey one, fresh out of the oven, from your favorite coffee shop, to nibble while sipping a mocha whatever on the side, may still be a no-no.
Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair, the Liberal government's point man on the cannabis legalization file, told the CBC that safety was top of mind when the government drafted the regulations.
"I've heard from the industry and people say, 'You know, we could make more money if you did this or relaxed these regulations.' But quite frankly, that's not our motivation," he said during an event in Coquitlam, B.C. Friday.
"Our motivation is, and will always be, to protect our kids, protect health and safety of Canadians, to keep our communities safe, and displace that illicit market that has developed over decades in this country."
Part of the reason for this legalization push is to force out the black market, which is swooping in to fill cannabis shortages in Canada. "We are replacing those illegal products, those far riskier products, with a safer product, with a regulated product," he said.
Nonetheless, the anticipated demand is huge, and is expected to stretch Canada’s current cannabis shortage. "We're holding back or acquiring product basically to turn into oil, which we will put into our value-added products, where we see greater potential for profitability," Boone told the CBC.