Canada has spelled out its final regulations for the next generation of legal cannabis products. As promised, the new rules will take effect on Oct. 17, but Canadians will have to wait until at least Dec. 16 to purchase edibles, vapes, topicals and beverages.
Speaking in a technical briefing on Friday, government officials said to expect a “limited selection” of products at first. They also warned that provinces, territories and retailers will need time to stock up and make the new products available for sale.
Despite a four-month consultation period with the public and industry stakeholders to evaluate potential changes, the rules are largely in step with a draft released last December.
As expected, the new products will be limited to a maximum of 10 mg of THC per single-serving package. There will also be a strict ban on products that appeal to children, and requirements for child-proof packaging.
New provisions prohibit association with alcohol or tobacco products, allow multiple infused beverages to be packed together, and limit how cannabis can be advertised.
Uncertainty remains around what is considered appealing to children. The government said it will evaluate products on a case-by-case basis, and weigh factors including shape, colour, smell, flavour, labelling, and presentation. There are currently no plans to fully detail what is allowable and what is not.
Under the new rules, licensed producers will be required to provide Health Canada with 60 days notice of their intent to sell new cannabis products. The department will start accepting new product applications on Oct. 17.
Yahoo Finance Canada reached out to a number of cannabis industry players for reaction to the new regulations. Here’s what they said:
“It's positive overall and certainly aligned with what our expectations had been,” said Organigram Inc. (OGI.V)(OGI) Chief Executive Greg Engel. “I think one of the key learnings from last year was, and our approach has always been, don't launch a product until you have sufficient inventory. We will be ready for vaporizable cannabis for October. But edibles wouldn't be ready until December. So it is positive from that perspective.”
“No big surprises today,” said Trina Fraser, a partner at Brazeau Seller Law who focuses on cannabis. “Not surprisingly, Health Canada has prioritized the objective of protecting public health and safety over displacement of the illicit market. So we will have to work with this for now, and then be able to demonstrate to Health Canada over time how adjustments can be made which will preserve public health and safety while advancing other objectives.”
“I think it was a disappointment on the part of some of the industry players that they still have to have a separate facility if they want to make any food products or beverage products,” said Nick Pateras, vice-president of strategy for Lift & Co. (LIFT.V).
“This is actually the first time that I saw Health Canada issue some kind of guidance to the public on what start low, go slow actually means by way of potency,” Pateras added. “For instance, they say for edibles or capsules, look for products that contain 2.5 mg of THC or less. I think that is really judicious.”
“It's a lot of what was expected,” said Corey Herscu, CEO of RNMKR, a public relations firm that caters to the cannabis industry. “As legalization continues to roll-out, the government will continue to err on the side of caution. They’re not interested in rushing the process (despite legalization happening still on the 17th of October), and by no means wants any reference between cannabis, alcohol and tobacco.”