Canadian government first legalized cannabis dried flowers and oils back in the year 2018. It is now embarking on its second wave of cannabis legalization that will include CBD infused edibles, concentrates and topicals. The products will be available from October 17, 2019 onwards, almost a year post first cannabis legalization. But the officials expect that only a limited range of products will appear in physical or online stores no earlier than mid-December 2019.
As per the current regulations, cannabis producers need to inform 60 days in advance about their plans to sell new products to the Health Canada. The department will begin accepting new product applications from October 17 of this year. Officials said that even provincially or territorially authorized distributors and retailers will need time to purchase products and make them available for sale.
Despite a lengthy and intensive four-month consultation period with the public and industry stakeholders for evaluation of the draft regulations that came out last year, no major changes have been made with respect to the products or their THC concentration per se. The Canadian government allows a maximum limit of 10 mg of THC in a “single-serving” for edible sets. For concentrates, the allowed limit for THC goes up to 1,000 mg per package.
Other cannabis products such as topicals, lotions, balms and oils that are skin absorbent and used for pain relief and inflammation will also have a maximum legal limit of 1,000 mg of THC per package.
However, the government has reiterated its restrictions on the marketing and advertising of these products, specifically noting that they should not be “appealing to kids”, and contain no health claims for treating any severe diseases. In addition to this, the products should not contain any compound which could possibly associate it with alcoholic beverages, or brands of alcohol.
This might pose as a major problem for many companies, especially a Canadian start-up, Province Brands which has been marketing their beer brewed from cannabis plant from over two years now. “There’s a bit of confusion around several ingredients as of now, and the limitations that are put on these products, especially cupcakes and other sweet treats which will definitely be appealing for the younger kids”, said Lucas McCann, from the consulting firm CannDelta Inc.
Officials said that cannabis products can not be manufactured in the same facility as other regular food products. All the cannabis infused products containing THC will be marked with standardized symbols and contain a warning message to inform the user about the product’s ingredients.
A single serving of cannabis edible can contain only up to 10mg of THC, for example, for a box of cookies, the concentration of THC will remain same irrespective of how many cookies are in there.
Deepak Anand, industry advisor and CEO of Materia Ventures said it is quite unfortunate that despite extensive industry consultations and feedback, HC has ignored extremely environmentally unfriendly packaging restrictions into the final draft of the regulations. The initial reaction from licensed producers showed a general support for the final regulations, the one meant for December 2019.
Chief Executive of Organigram Inc., Greg Engel said that they have been working really hard towards this timeline and a major takeaway from last year has been that they should have sufficient inventory before they launch into the market. Engel added that if they had launched earlier this year, they would have released fewer products. However, with the new timeline and proper guidelines around cannabis products, they will have some of their edible products ready on time.
A number of major licensed producers like Quebec based HEXO Corp., Canopy Growth Corp. and CannTrust have already linked with the bigheads in the food and beverages domain in order to prepare well for the second wave of cannabis legalization.
Canopy, a giant company have a bottling factory up and running in Smiths Falls, Ont., and an in-house chocolate maker Hummingbird, which is creating cannabis infused chocolates. Canopy received a $9 billion investment from alcohol giant Constellation Brands last fall and the company has been quite active in the cannabis space since the first wave of legalization. However, Chief Executive of Canopy, Bruce Linton was vague in his response to how prepared Canopy was for October with its new line of cannabis infused products, especially beverages and foods.
Linton said that they are waiting for further clear guidelines on the products and their concentration. Besides its joint venture with Molson Coors to develop cannabis infused drinks, HEXO Corp. also has an agreement with a food company, Neal Brothers Inc. to develop cannabis based speciality food products.