Health Canada Proposes Regulations to Restrict the Potency of Edibles, Beverages and Other Cannabis Products

Details on the next phase of rules regarding the legalization of cannabis in Canada were unveiled today with Health Canada’s publication of the proposed regulations for additional cannabis products, including edibles, beverages, ingestible and inhalable extracts, and topical creams.

The first phase of legalization permitted use of recreational cannabis in Canada the form of dried cannabis and cannabis oil and allowed Canadians to purchase cannabis plants and cannabis seeds. The sale and use of all of these forms of cannabis is governed federally by the Cannabis Act as well as related provincial legislation.[1]

The rules governing this next wave need to be finalized and in place no later than October 17, 2019. The proposed regulations cover a number of additional categories of cannabis products and aim to restrict THC limits and other factors, including:

  • Edible, solid products: 10mg of THC per package, no added vitamins or minerals, and limits on the amount caffeine;
  • Beverages: 10 mg of THC per container, no added alcohol, no added vitamins or minerals, and limits on the amount caffeine;
  • Extracts: 1000 mg of THC per package, no added sugars, colours or sweeteners, and no nicotine or caffeine; and
  • Topical creams and lotions: 1000 mg of THC per package, for use on skin, hair and nails, contain only cosmetic grade ingredients, and not be for use in eyes or on damaged skin.

All categories of cannabis products are expected to avoid any elements that would associate the product with alcoholic beverages or brands of alcohol, make no health or dietary claims, be in plain, child-resistant packaging, and not be appealing to children.

Currently the grey market is awash in much stronger THC content gummies and chocolates well beyond the proposed 10mg limit (per package). Concerns over unintended consumption by minors have likely precipitated the lower dose limit. Certain industry insiders have noted that edibles are likely not going to be the dominant form of cannabis consumption moving forward; rather liquids will be, as the North American consumer is generally most familiar with alcohol by serving.

Health Canada is conducting a two-month online public consultation regarding the draft regulations, which Health Canada has noted are needed to address the public health and safety risks posed by cannabis edibles, extracts and topicals. All Canadians are welcome to participate online from December 20, 2018 to February 20, 2019 and in related roundtable discussions across the country.

Should you have any questions about the Canadian regulatory environment for cannabis or related commercial matters, please contact our Cannabis Practice Group.

[1] For a summary of the federal and provincial legislation on cannabis and the impact of legalization in BC, click on the following links:

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