Cannabis Edibles Enter the Market
Originally unavailable in Canada’s Cannabis 1.0 legalization rollout, edibles have officially and legally joined the list of marijuana products now available to Canadian consumers. Edibles in the form of chocolates, gummies, candies, mints, baked goods and beverages containing up to a maximum of 10mg THC per package and an unlimited amount of CBD became purchasable in late 2019.
Along with many other categories of products (chief amongst them being vaporizable concentrate pens), edibles are one of the most highly anticipated additions into Canada’s legal cannabis repertoire of products.
While labelling for edibles, like other categories of cannabis products, are still federally regulated by Health Canada, Licensed Producers have some leeway when it comes to the ingredients and additions that can be included in their products. Labelling has changed to include new information regarding included ingredients, as well as the pre-existing carryover of cannabinoid information (CBD and THC).
What are Edibles?
Official terminology around ‘edibles’ has been confusing as Canada’s initial watershed cannabis rollout included dry flower, capsules and tinctures.
While capsules and tinctures are specifically designed to be eaten or drank, the official messaging surrounding this new category of products is designated as “ingestible extracts” and includes everything from baked goods, candies (gummies & mints) as well as drinks (pre-mixed and concentrated syrups).
As a new addition into the cannabis space, there still is a lack of official standardization in regards to onset times. This cannot be controlled due to the difference in human physiology in metabolizing cannabinoids and was perhaps the leading argument in capping THC amounts to 10mg per package.
Legal Edibles – What’s Included?
The accurate labeling of any edible cannabis product includes a list of every ingredient contained within. Potential allergens such as milk, soy, and gluten are also to be labelled. The use or addition of sulphites must also be added to the ingredient labels list.
Nutrition Fact Tables (NFTs) for cannabis-specific products must also include standard information such as the amount of calories from fat, protein and carbs. Nutritional contents about calcium, iron, potassium and sodium levels are also mandatory. Cannabis 2.0 edible products must not contain any added nicotine, alcohol, minerals or vitamins. The inclusion of caffeine is permitted, but only to allow for the naturally occurring amounts that are found in chocolates, coffee, and teas.
Cannabinoid content (THC and CBD) must also be displayed alongside standard cannabis warning labels on the packaging. This includes the amount per package as well as the amount per discernible unit.
Cannabis Consumables – a Watershed Moment?
The addition, or rather, the inclusion of edibles into the legal cannabis space is an important step in legitimizing and standardizing a section of the cannabis market that has remained largely unregulated until now.
While dried and cured flower themselves can be visually inspected and examined to discern quality, the same cannot be said for edibles (infused or otherwise). Additionally, the inclusion of potentially unsavory and harmful ingredients also presented a degree of risk for casual cannabis users, a large majority of which enjoy consuming edibles as opposed to the combustion of dried flower.
The extraction method used to produce the cannabis concentrates needed to infuse edibles has also remained in doubt – there is no way to know whether or not the methods and environment used were clean or posed a risk to health.
Today, Health Canada strictly regulates edibles in terms of the extraction method, the ingredients included, the potency of each product and the labelling used.
Ingestible extracts do not contain more than 10mg of THC per package and are placed in child-proof packaging to prevent child tampering. There is also support to reduce the appeal of ingestible extracts to youth by limiting bright packaging and using different forms (e.g. no lollipops, no gummy bears, no gummy worms).
Such lessons gleaned from Cannabis 2.0’s ingestible extracts could guide subsequent legislation on future categories of cannabis products.
Do Ingestible Extracts Expire?
As with many consumable perishables, Health Canada has stipulated that ingestible extracts must have a ‘durable life date’ (best before date) if the product is designed and/or recommended to be consumed within 90 days or less. For ingestible extracts with more than 90 days of durable life, the inclusion of a durable life date is optional.
A Delicious Opportunity
Additionally, ingestible extracts must be ‘shelf stable’ and remain ready for consumption without refrigeration.
While many are still making adjustments to pivot and adapt to evolving legislation, the additions of these products present an exciting opportunity for both producers and consumers in the industry. Whereas many first time cannabis users might shy away from smoking a joint, the option to consume a tincture, chew on a gummy, or drink a consumed beverage presents a delicious opportunity to get involved with cannabis.