Health Canada announces regulations for impending legal cannabis edibles, topicals, and extracts

No bright colours, no appealing flavours, no alcohol, no caffeine, no promotion, no health claims—but packages will get peel-away labels!

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      When the Cannabis Act was enacted last October, it regulated several classes of cannabis products: fresh and dried flower, seeds, plants, and oils. Products like infused edibles, creams, and extracts didn’t make the cut, but Health Canada promised to include those popular consumer items at a later date.

      Today (June 14), the regulator announced the framework and laws around the three new classes of legal products set to hit the market in mid-December.

      You may be asking yourself: “Wait—December? They’ve been saying October 17!” Yes, December. Here’s how it works: The revisions to Bill C-45 come into effect on October 17, then licensed producers (LP) must submit proposed products for approval 60-days before anything can be pushed into distribution channels. December 16 is the earliest any of these items can appear for sale in-store or online.

      In a teleconference today, it quickly became clear that there’s really nothing all too notably different from the proposed regulations Health Canada published earlier this year.

      Edible cannabis products will carry a maximum of 10 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per package. This extends to beverages, meaning a six-pack can contain less than 1.7 mg of THC per can or bottle. Government officials say this is to reduce the incidents of “adverse effects and hospitalization” as a result of accidental overconsumption.

      Beverages infused with THC cannot contain alcohol—or use alcoholic-terminology like “chardonnay” or “IPA” in their branding. This could prove a hurdle for companies investing in non-alcoholic canna-beer and –wine products.

      Health Canada

      Edibles can’t have added vitamins, minerals, or nicotine. There will be small allowances in ingredients already containing caffeine, like chocolate, but those limits are still to be set. Edible products also cannot come in shapes, forms, colours, or flavours that appeal to children (say "goodbye" to infused gummy bears and lego bricks). Health Canada says these rules reinforce its overall goal of reducing youth interest or accidental consumption.

      As far as gummies and candies go, Health Canada didn’t want to write these types of products off all together—but it says approval will happen on a case-by-case basis because they naturally appeal to underage consumers. The regulator added that the onus is on the companies to be “innovative” within the restrictions.

      If a company is found flouting this regulation (or produces a product that could appeal to a child), it can carry up to $5 million in fines.

      Edibles must also be prepared in a site separate to that of any other food or cannabis facility. Health Canada says this is to lower the risk of cross-contamination.

      No nutritional or promotional claims can be made about any of these products. They will fall under the same packaging requirements as the formerly approved classes of cannabis—child-resistant, plain, and brandishing a warning symbol. The packages, however, are now approved to have peel-away information panel to allow for more information.

      Cannabis topicals, like infused balms, salves, and creams, can carry up to 1,000 mg of THC per package. Extracts are limited to 10 mg of THC per unit, but allow for a maximum of 1,000 mg per package.

      These regulations do not affect the way cannabidiol (CBD) is regulated—which falls under the Industrial Hemp Act—and CBD-infused products would have to adhere to federal food and drug regulations. Both ingestible and inhalable extracts also cannot contain added sweeteners, colours, nicotine, or caffeine.

      The official regulations will be published in the government’s magazine, the Canadian Gazette, Part II, on June 26. For now, there’s a copy available online.