In Canada, marijuana legalization has been happening in stages. Since recreational marijuana was legalized in 2018 with the Cannabis Act and Cannabis Regulations (which outlines, controls and regulates production, distribution, promotion and the sale of cannabis), there was a lot of anticipation for edibles to follow suit. Finally, on October 17, 2019, cannabis edibles were officially legalized alongside topicals and concentrates.
Now that edibles are legal, there are new hurdles and regulations to be aware of. Here’s what you should know about Canada’s regulations on cannabis edibles.
What Health Canada Licensed Producers Should Know About Cannabis Edibles
Legalization has put both restrictions and freedoms on a wide range of consumer behaviors involving cannabis. For Health Canada licensed producers, this meant that any edibles planned on being sold could be submitted for review and approval by Health Canada.
Once submitted, licensed producers would be under a 60-day waiting period before selling their product, which made the first round of edible product submissions available for retail in mid-December 2019. On January 16, cannabis edibles were made available online througn the Ontario Cannabis Store’s website.
There are different classes of individual licenses you can have for growing, producing, selling (medical cannabis), testing and researching with cannabis. You need a license from Health Canada to process cannabis into finished products (including packaging and labelling).
If you are interested in producing the newly legalized product types (edibles, topicals and extracts), you will need to apply for an amendment to your existing license. You can apply for an amendment and manage your licenses through the Cannabis Tracking and Licensing System.
Health Canada Regulations for Producing Cannabis Edibles
Edibles are products that contain cannabis which can be consumed as a food or a drink. There are, of course, regulations that manufacturers must follow. For instance, certain municipal restrictions may apply to your production facilities, which is further complicated by the fact that laws differ from one province to the next.
One other thing to note is that consumption is also subject to local laws, and limitations apply for purchases. Manufacturers can create cannabis-containing food and drinks, as long as dangerous organic solvents aren’t used.
Only a maximum of 10 mg of THC (the psychoactive component of cannabis) is allowed in a single package and unit of edibles. Apart from cannabis, only food and food additives are allowed. No added vitamins or minerals can be added, and neither can you add nicotine or alcohol. There is also a limit on the addition of caffeine, which is capped at 30 mg.
With regards to food safety requirements, cannabis edibles should be shelf-stable, and packed in food-grade packaging.
How to Package, Market and Sell Cannabis Edibles
Speaking of packaging, there are currently tight regulations that business owners need to follow for packaging cannabis edibles.
First and foremost, the packaging of cannabis edibles itself is highly restricted. It must be plain and child resistant. There can be no package design that is appealing to youth who are under 18 years old. This essentially means no characters and animals or anything that would attract kids.
Secondly, there can be no testimonials, endorsements, facility names and sponsorships, or any other design that appeals to lifestyle, glamour, recreation or excitement.
Moreover, no health, dietary or cosmetic claims can be made on the label, and nothing on the package label can associate the product with alcoholic beverages, tobacco, or vaping products
Just as there are restrictions, there are also requirements manufacturers must adhere to with regards to packaging labels. There must be the standardized cannabis symbol for products containing THC and there must be a Health Warning Message included.
Labelling must include an ingredients list, notices of any possible food allergens the edible may contain, and also a Nutrition Facts Table.
The THC/CBD content must be stated with the amount of THC/CBD listed as an equivalent to dried cannabis to determine public possession limit.
Are you a licenced producer looking to start selling edibles? If you are and have questions as a cannabis retail business on policies about cannabis edibles, contact us at OMQ Law in Toronto, Oakville or London for a free consultation.