The house standing committee on health voted for an amendment Tuesday that, if approved by the House, will ensure cannabis edibles and concentrates will be available no later than 12 months after legalization comes into force.
“Edibles” and other cannabis products have been a hot topic of debate in the health committee hearings so far, as the Cannabis Act when it was first presented only included dried cannabis and ingestible (not smokeable) cannabis oils. Several witnesses told the committee of the need to provide such products to satisfy consumer demand, to ensure the variety of legal products matches those available in the black market, and to provide consumers with healthier options than simply smoking cannabis.
In the second day of the clause-by-clause analysis of the 150 page bill, the Health Committee ran through dozens of proposed amendments, only passing a handful. The proposed amendment for cannabis edibles and concentrates, said Liberal committee member John Oliver, was to respond to witness testimony calling for their regulations and provide a reasonable timeline for the public and industry.
“This proposed amendment would provide certainty and timing for Canadians and the industry that edibles containing cannabis and cannabis concentrates will be authorized for sale no more than 12 months of the proposed cannabis act,” Oliver told the committee.
The amendment to add the language for edibles and concentrates, along with a companion amendment to ensure this comes into force no later than 12 months after the legalization bill is passed, were both approved by the committee.
NDP health critic Don Davies, who presented a similar motion to ensure the introduction of similar products (which failed), said he supported the amendment, except for the caveat of waiting.
“But for the waiting 12 months,” said Davies, “I think it’s an excellent motion.”
“There is no reason whatsoever to go slow on this because there’s nothing that we are going to learn in the next year about these products that we don’t know now.”
In response, Oliver noted that many US jurisdictions have advised the Canadian government to move slowly on edibles and that testimony from various related ministries has asked for more time due to the necessary complexity of regulations designed to manage edible products containing cannabis.
Currently, dried cannabis ‘buds’ or flowers, along with ingestible oils and oil capsules, are available through Canada’s regulated medical cannabis program, and the Cannabis Act previously included the regulation of only these products for the non-medical, recreational cannabis market.
The committee also approved another amendment introduced by the Liberals that removed a 100 cm height limitation on home grown cannabis. The Cannabis Act allows for up to four flowering cannabis plants per household. Provinces and even municipalities can also still issue restrictions or outright bans on personal cannabis cultivation.
Shane Morris, the Vice-President, Quality Assurance and Scientific Affairs at Hydropothecary, a medical cannabis grower in Gatineau, Quebec says the timeline gives certainty to the industry, allowing them to develop the kinds of products that will soon be regulated, many of which are already readily available on the black market.
"It is a very positive public health move to allow the responsible regulation and oversight of edibles," says Morris. "It gives certainty to a key recommendation made by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. Closing the edible gap by providing the legal ability to sell cannabis edibles will help combat a key black market sector and help mitigate the food safety and mis-dosing risks. A timeline for the establishment of the regulatory framework is very welcome as it allows preparation and planning by both Government and industry."
Morris had made a written submission on the issue of edibles you can read here.
Brandon Wright, the GM at Baked Edibles, a company on Vancouver Island that specializes in edible cannabis products outside of existing cannabis regulations, is hopeful for the future of business like his.
"[We're] incredibly thankful to see C-45 recognizing that access to edibles is already crucial for so many. We're very much looking forward to a successfully regulated industry. Our early focus on product-testing standards and CFIA production and packaging standards will no doubt help smooth our transition to federal oversight. We're hoping that many other producers will join us and also succeed under new regulation."
This article has been edited to add additional information.
— David Brown (@drowbb) October 3, 2017
Companion amendment Lib 21 passes 6-3 pic.twitter.com/fgx87MZDLC
— David Brown (@drowbb) October 3, 2017
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