Twelve months have rolled by since legalization and October 17th, 2019 brought in regulations that allow for a new wave of products that expands legal product offerings from dried flower and oils/capsules to edibles, concentrates, and topicals. Although these new products are now legal, it’s going to be at least 60 days before they are available to purchase, as Health Canada has created a two-month window to enable licensed producers and suppliers to manufacture products and get them distributed to retailers. More options for consumers mean that retailers need to be armed with information about what’s going to be happening over the next couple of months.
New Cannabis Regulations
So, what’s new? While dried flower will remain as it is (in one/3.5/7/15 gram loose formats and 0.5/1gram pre-rolls), oils and capsules have been reclassified to fit into the new ‘extracts’ category. Extracts is one of the widest categories as it covers oils/capsules intended for ingestion and concentrates such as hash, rosin, budder, wax, shatter, and vape cartridges that are intended for inhalation. The other new categories include edibles (baked goods, gummies, beverages etc) and topicals (anything intended for external application to hair, nails, or skin). It’s expected that vape cartridges and edibles/beverages are going to be the biggest new additions to product assortments.
Health Canada has set the limits on the THC content of these products, with concentrates/extracts set at 1000mg (with a max of 10mg per unit/dispensed amount for ingestible extracts), topicals maxed at 1000mg THC, and edibles set at a limit of 10mg per product. Yes, that means that each cookie/chocolate bar is limited to 10mg of THC, so expect more packaging woes!
What Products Will be Available?
While hopefully, all types of extracts will eventually be available for consumers, it’s likely that edibles and vape cartridges are going to be a focus for producers and retailers. Within the ‘edibles’ category, beverages are expected to be a big segment of the market. Topicals will probably be a much smaller sector, as most consumers are likely to go through the medical stream to obtain these.
Vape cartridges have had a bad rep recently, thanks to some shady products on the unregulated market. The issue has been potential contamination with mould, pesticides, and heavy metals, as well as the addition of artificial flavourings, which can affect the lungs, and the use of vitamin E as a filler that mimics the viscosity of extracted cannabis. Various voltage vape batteries have also caused confusion about the correct temperature to use. The good news is that vape cartridges coming from legal sources (i.e. LPs) will be lab-tested and won’t contain any added vitamins, minerals, sugars, sweeteners or colour; therefore allaying most consumers’ safety concerns.
What Will the New Products Mean for Retailers?
With edibles (especially beverages) expected to be popular, now is the time to think about new display options. While edible products are mandated to be ‘shelf-stable’, fridges are going to be a good idea to maintain freshness and make beverages more appealing to consumers.
It’s also important to make sure that people are aware of the difference between edible and inhalable products. While smoking a joint/dabbing/vaping will take effect within seconds to minutes, edible products can take up to four hours for the onset of effects and residual effects can last up to 12-24 hours. Health Canada suggests that newbies start with less than 10% THC for inhalable products and less than 2.5mg of THC for edibles.
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