What You Need to Know About the New Edibles Laws

Cannabis-infused food and beverages are now legal. Here are the key takeaways.

Cannabis-infused caramels are shown next to a canister

According to a recent CAA study among Ontario drivers aged 19-70, edible cannabis is the second most common consupmption method for current cannabis users. And as of October 17, 2019, Health Canada’s new cannabis regulations are in effect, allowing edibles, extracts and topicals to be sold legally without a prescription. It’s the second wave of legalization after dried cannabis flower was approved for recreational use last October, and licensed retailers are gearing up to offer consumers a new array of products, from brownies to cannabis-infused body lotion.

What cannabis products are now legal

Edibles—defined by Health Canada as either a food or beverage containing cannabis—can only contain a maximum of 10 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per package. This corresponds roughly to the amount of psychoactive compounds in an average joint, though the effects can vary from person to person and by the strain of cannabis used.

Extracts, including cannabis oil for vaping, are also limited to 10 mg of THC per unit, and products used for topical application cannot contain more than 1,000 mg per container. Producers also face tight marketing restrictions, which forbid any colours, shapes, flavours or names that “appeal to youth”—all of which will be judged on a case-by-case basis when product applications open.

Where edibles will be sold

The online Ontario Cannabis Store, as well as licensed cannabis retailer locations across the province, will be able to sell edibles. But despite the new laws’ coming into effect already, edibles, extracts and topicals won’t be available in stores or online until mid-December at the earliest. Producers must go through a 60-day approval process before they can begin to sell.

How beginners should approach edibles

The government’s strict rules about dosage and packaging for edibles stems from concerns about unintentional overconsumption—because the digestive system absorbs THC much slower than the lungs, it can take up to 90 minutes to start feeling the effects. This means you might accidentally eat more than you can handle, causing unpleasant symptoms like anxiety, paranoia and heart palpitations.

If you are experimenting for the first time, Health Canada recommends that you start with a small amount—around 2.5 mg of THC. For example, if a cannabis cookie’s label says it contains 10 mg of THC, start with a quarter of it. And most importantly, if you choose to consume cannabis on its own, or in combination with alcohol, always plan a safe ride home.

Keep reading

Click here to find out what CAA is doing to help raise awareness about cannabis-impaired driving.

Image credit: Gina Kelly/Alamy

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