As retail cannabis consultants (and liquor consultants) we’ve been amazed at how quickly the cannabis climate in Canada has changed. It’s not that long ago that being caught in possession of cannabis could mean criminal charges and jail time. According to Wikipedia’s “Legal history of cannabis in Canada”, even small quantities of cannabis could land you in prison for 6 months. A first offender could be charged and fined up to $1,000. Convictions increased from “20 cases in 1962, to 2,300 cases in 1968, to 12,000 in 1972.”
October 17th marked the 1-year anniversary of recreational cannabis legalization in Canada, so it’s fitting that a year later, the second phase of legalization – permitting the consumption, production and sale of cannabis edibles, topicals and extracts – comes into effect. Amendments became effective October 17, 2019, although new products won’t hit retail cannabis store shelves until December.
Health Canada has imposed a 60-day waiting period after producers provide notice of their intent to manufacture. While December is the earliest that consumers will see these products on store shelves, it could be months more before they are “highly” available (bad pun intended).
Read the Task Force recommendations on Cannabis-based edibles and other products.
Health Canada has restricted the amount of THC that can be present in edibles, extracts and topicals, while also restricting the use of other ingredients that make the new products more attractive. Plain packaging and warning labels will make the products less appealing and child-resistant packaging is mandatory.
Edibles include cannabis candy and chocolate, gummies, baked goods and cannabis-infused drinks.
Edibles are limited to 10 mg of THC per package.
Extracted cannabis oils are used to create many types of cannabis products such as tinctures, creams and “shatter” (sometimes referred to as “dabs”). Shatter takes its name from the honey-coloured, wax-like shards of extracted oil that closely resembles homemade caramel or hard taffy. Imbibers feel that shatter gives them more bang for the buck as a little goes a long way. Shatter vapour is smoked with a “dab rig” that consists of a nail that holds the shatter and a torch that heats and vaporizes it for inhalation. “Dab” pens – small, personal vaporizers – are also used to inhale extracts.
Ingestible extracts are limited to 10 mg of THC per unit or 1000 mg of THC per package. Inhaled extracts are limited to 1000 mg of THC per package.
Topicals include lotions, balms, and salves that are applied to the skin. They are most often used for their purported anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Topicals frequently contain non-psychoactive CBD as the active ingredient, although even topicals containing THC, do not cause a person to become high.
Topicals are limited to 1000 mg of THC per package, can’t contain alcohol or nicotine, and may only be used on skin, hair and nails.
Read or download details of the final regulations at Health Canada.
Rebecca Hardin, lead retail cannabis consultant, can ensure that your recreational cannabis license application has a better chance of approval. Once approved, Rebecca’s operations expertise can help your store maintain compliance, grow, and improve your bottom line profit.