After months of anticipation, Canada’s booming cannabis industry has a date for when new cannabis products, like cannabis drinks and cannabis oil vapes, are likely to hit the shelves: December 2019. On Friday, more than six months after cannabis sales for adult use became legal, Canada’s national health department announced regulations that will govern how some of the most popular edible, topical, and extract products among cannabis consumers can be produced and packaged.
“Beginning today, the licensed industry has certainty on what the requirement will be for the manufacturing of these products,” a Health Canada official said during Friday’s press briefing. “Over time a greater diversity of products will appear. And over time the market will mature and effectively displace the illegal market in Canada.”
The regulations, among other restrictions, cap the amount of THC at 10 milligrams per package for edible cannabis products, at 1,000 mg per package of extracts (that is, if inhaled, while ingested extracts must be in units of 10 mg only, e.g., 100 10-mg capsules per package), and at 1,000 mg per package of a cannabis topical. Depending on the product, certain additions, like caffeine, are prohibited. Across the board, producers must not make products appealing to children, and are required to give consumers an information sheet with every purchase.
Health Canada also released educational materials on things like dosing. For example, they encourage starting with 2.5 mg edibles, and they explain the varying effects of vapes with different THC concentrations.
Federally-licensed cannabis businesses have been laying the groundwork for this moment for months. For example, companies that are cultivating cannabis, like HEXO and Tilray, have been striking partnerships with companies that specialize in extraction and processing, like Valens GroWorks and Neptune Wellness Solutions. Licensed entities can apply to amend their licenses to include cannabis edibles and extracts starting on July 15.
The regulations will go into effect on Oct. 17, but officials expect that the products won’t be available in the market till mid-December. This is because existing regulations require license-holders to provide at least a 60-day notice to the health department before selling any new cannabis products. As a result, only a limited range of products will be available initially, officials said.
At least one US company has been making preparations for this moment. Already, Silicon Valley-based vape company PAX Labs has announced four Canadian partners for the launch of its Era oil vape up north: Aurora, Aphria, Organigram, and Supreme Cannabis. And to oversee the expansion, PAX hired its first ever general manager for Canada, Tim Pellerin, formerly SVP and COO of Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, the entity that oversees cannabis in the province. (PAX’s VP of policy Jeff Brown told Cannabis Wire about these plans back in April.)
PAX, though, has a luxury not afforded to plant-touching cannabis businesses in the US: as a hardware product, it can cross borders seamlessly. Still, the industries in the US and Canada are already intertwined, and they are paying attention to each other.
Michael Bronstein, president of the American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp, told Cannabis Wire, “United States regulators and industry alike are watching Canada closely as the FDA and other federal agencies privately contemplate the future federal landscape. There is a lot at stake, and while the regulations may not yet be fully what the market desires, if done successfully and responsibly, the case to expand will be successful and the marketplace will develop.”
The full list of regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on June 26.