In 2018, the Government of Canada became the first of the G7 countries to legalize cannabis use by releasing the Cannabis Act, a national framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada. Designed to keep cannabis out of the hands of youths, it is also intended to keep profits out of criminals’ hands.
Until 2018 cannabis was used, at most, for medical purposes – as a cure to control pain or reduce the symptoms of diseases like epilepsy. Many global food and beverage manufacturers are exploring the possibility of cannabinoids in the edibles market as a potential growth area. This is driven by consumer interest, as demonstrated in a survey run by Deloitte in 2018[²].
In the survey, consumers were asked whether they had heard of certain products and then whether they would consider using those products. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 64% of people had heard of cannabis-based bakes good (cookies, brownies, etc.) and 51% would try them. Consumer awareness of cannabis-based products varied, from 5% who had heard of potato chips to 64% for baked goods. However, their willingness to use the food products was more consistent with crackers/biscuits, potato chips, ice cream and honey all attracting interest at 20-30%. Also beverages are creating interest with 31% of consumers willing to taste new drinks. The products most people expressed an interest in using were hard candies/lollipops/gummies, chocolate and baked goods, demonstrating a willingness among consumers to take advantage of any legalization.
One year after the Cannabis Act came into force the Canadian Government decided to authorize the legal sale of edibles containing cannabis. The postponement was due to the urgency of specific regulations covering packaging, labels, production and human conduct in general. The amendment foresees an addition to the existing regulations to include three new classes of cannabis that can be legally sold: edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals.
WHAT IS CANNABIDIOL?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis and it is derived directly from the hemp plant. According to a report from the World Health Organization¹, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential” and there is no evidence of any related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.
THREE NEW CLASSES OF CANNABIS
Canada’s Government identified three different classes of cannabis that can be legally sold by authorized persons including distributors and retailers.
- Edible cannabis: products containing cannabis that are intended to be consumed in the same manner as food (i.e. eaten or drunk)
- Cannabis extracts: products that are produced using extraction processing methods or by synthesizing phytocannabinoids
- Cannabis topicals: products that include cannabis as an ingredient and that are intended to be used on external body surfaces (i.e. skin, hair, and nails)
These new classes of cannabis will be integrated into the existing cannabis framework and regulated under the Cannabis Act already in force.
OBJECTIVE OF THE NEW REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
The Cannabis Regulations in force from October 17, 2019, establish the rules and standards to regulate production, distribution, sale, importation and exportation of cannabis that can be sold by authorized persons.
The main objective of the new amendment is to extend the regulations in order to protect public health and public safety by reducing:
- - Appeal of such products to youth
- - Risk of accidental consumption, especially of edible cannabis, including by youths
- - Risk of overconsumption associated with edible cannabis (because of the delay in experiencing the effects of cannabis when it is ingested rather than inhaled) and cannabis products with a higher concentration of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- - Risk of foodborne illness associated with the production and consumption of edible cannabis
- - Risk of dependence and other negative health outcomes associated with cannabis products with a higher concentration of THC or cannabis products that contain ethyl alcohol or caffeine
- - Potential health and, in some cases, safety risks associated with the use of certain solvents, carriers, and diluents
There is hype in the industry and regulators are under pressure to adapt the regulatory frameworks. A process-driven approach to compliance using regulatory monitoring enables companies to identify potential regulatory changes. SGS Digicomply’s Compliance Watch is a powerful module designed to make accessing regulatory and compliance intelligence on a day-to-day basis much easier. Horizontal scanning of relevant global news sources to provide compliance information that is relevant to the user. Sign up to SGS Digicomply and Compliance Watch for more insight.