From 16 December 2019, edible cannabis products are permitted to be sold in Canada. These must comply with new regulations for edible, inhalable and topical products, designed to reduce the risk of accidental consumption or overconsumption. Edible products are not individually approved for sale, but the regulations instruct manufacturers to provide Health Canada with a written notice of the product – including class of product, description and expected date of offering for sale – then wait 60 days before sale, to give the authorities time to raise any concerns. As the new regulations came into force on 17 October 2019, the earliest date for the sale of edible cannabis products was therefore 16 December 2019. Herbal cannabis products and cannabis oils have been on sale in licensed shops in Canada since 17 October 2018.
The new regulations introduce three new product classes:
- edible cannabis for eating or drinking;
- cannabis extracts for ingesting (which includes absorption in the mouth) or for inhaling; and
- cannabis topicals (such as creams or ointments), for application to external body surfaces (skin, hair or nails).
The existing class of cannabis oils will be deleted by October 2020, and in the future these products will be considered as cannabis extracts.
In line with Canada’s objective of legalising for protection of public health, and keeping young people away from the market, the regulations state that products must not be appealing to youth or make health or cosmetic claims, and should not associate with tobacco, vaping or alcohol products. Packaging must be plain and child-resistant, must carry a standardised cannabis symbol and health warning, and be labelled with the THC and CBD content. Package sizes are limited to 10 mg THC per package for edible products and 10 mg THC per capsule or dispensed amount for cannabis extract; in addition there is a limit of 1000 mg THC per package for products other than edibles, e.g. a bottle of capsules. Cannabis extract for ingesting or inhaling should not have added sugars, sweeteners or colours, but this restriction does not apply to edible cannabis for eating or drinking. The new, updated warning messages include one stating that ‘It can take up to 4 hours to feel the full effects from eating or drinking cannabis.’