Looking to the US for our Edible Future

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While smoking is the most popular way to consume cannabis, edibles may be the future. Canada will soon legalize cannabis edibles that will purportedly cover a full spectrum of products. Of the states that have legalized cannabis in the US, all have seen edibles comprise a significant share of the consumer market. The rise in the popularity of edibles stems from the fact that they are discrete, can be used virtually anywhere, and are healthier than smoking. People that have respiratory problems, new users, or people who prefer lower doses may also prefer edibles. So what will legalizing edibles entail?

By the end of 2019, the Cannabis Act will also include edibles from retailers authorized by the province or territories. While we still don’t know the complete parameters, we can look to the US to get a hint of what might be in store.

Many state regulations require edible producers to create their own products rather than simply adding cannabis to food that already exists. For example, it would be illegal to simply add cannabis oil to a Snickers bar. Additionally, most states don’t allow edible products to be made in the shape of fruits, animals, or people.  

Like all food products, states also require that edibles have the nutritional content information plus the production and expiry dates on the packaging. Moreover, a license is required in most states to produce edibles. This is similar to what Canadian licensed producers have to go through currently. Some states go so far as requiring food handling permits as well.

The two major factors that the government must regulate are cannabis content and dosage. Regulated standards must be put into place to ensure that the cannabis content is not contaminated with anything toxic. Furthermore, consumers must be able to control how much they are ingesting. A consistent dosage system must be in place. Currently, the Cannabis Act allows a limit of 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent. The Cannabis Act sets the equivalent as 15 grams of edible products, 70 grams of liquid products, or 0.25 grams of concentrates (solid or liquid).  

Most states have created two categories of edibles: single and multidose where single edibles are meant for a single person and limit THC content to 10 mg. Multidose edibles are for multiple servings and may limit THC content to 100 mg. More importantly, States must ensure that edible products have uniform THC distribution. In other words, a batch of gummies must all have the same of THC content. Consumers must know how much THC they are consuming.

There may also be calls for warning labels stating that edibles impair people differently than other cannabis products. Most notable is the delay that happens when people consume edibles. Consumers commonly do not feel the effects of THC until up to 2 hours from ingestion. New and even seasoned users get caught in the trap of over consuming edibles not knowing that the reaction they are looking for is delayed. Regulations should ensure that people don’t accidentally over consume THC.

Legalizing edibles is complex with dosing, packaging, and regulation all being scrutinized. On the bright side, legalized edible products may include everything from infused beer, cookies, brownies, sour candies, and numerous other options that don’t have the same stigma as smoking marijuana.