As the federal government prepares to legalize cannabis edibles next October, the City of Delta is readying its arguments on how the edible market should be regulated.
The city’s primary concern regarding cannabis edibles, city manager Sean McGill told council, is the way products that look like candies appeal to youth. The mayor’s delegation to Ottawa next week will present that concern as well as issues with how edibles are packaged when it meets with federal legislators.
“There are certainly stories of kids accessing things that look like gummy bears or some kind of treats with bright colours, and eating them and overdosing in some capacity, so that’s probably the biggest concern,” McGill said.
In a council report, McGill supported most of Health Canada’s recommendations with respect to edibles regulation. Packaging is to be child resistant, with labels that indicate that it is a cannabis product and include health warnings. Also, “it would be prohibited to make any claims respecting health benefits or nutrition on product labels,” the report says.
Delta police chief Neil Dubord recalled a DPD operation a year and a half ago in which police went into a cannabis retail store in Delta and bought eight different “marijuana substances” to be sent off for analysis. He told council that the THC content in the products varied greatly, from as low as one per cent up to 87 per cent. THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psycho-active agent in cannabis.
“As a result of that, that brought forward significant concerns with the edible market,” Dubord told council. “Since that time, obviously, that store has been closed and we continue to work with the federal government in relation to these regulations.”
As of the Reporter’s press deadline, it was not clear what kind of products were sent for analysis.
Dubord also brought up three points for city council to consider, namely that the THC content be limited in both the individual pieces of an edible product as well as the in the overall package. The city manager recommended the city support Health Canada’s “hard cap” of 10mg of THC per edible unit, with a total limit of 1000mg on the overall package.
“Not only will each piece be quality controlled with regards to the THC amount in it, but the overall package will have a certain amount,” Dubord said.
Secondly, Dubord recommended that edibles packaging be bland and not attractive to potential underage consumers.
“It will be plain packaging and very vanilla packaging that will not make it attractive to anyone,” he said.
Finally, Dubord wants the federal government to reimburse the police department for additional training he said will be necessary
“There will be an expense as a result of this particular piece of legislation coming in federally and the edible marijuana coming to our market,” Dubord added. “We will have to train each of our officers on how to recognize it and what to do with those samples once we see them.”
Dubord also touched upon “overdoses” from ingesting too much of an edible, especially as it related to youth who may dabble with cannabis products. He said users will sometimes consume more than they should because the high comes on more slowly than people think it will. As a result, they can have adverse reactions.
“As we know with youth, they’re attracted to this and sometimes the edible marijuanas take up to 30 minutes before they actually get a reaction,” he informed council members.
“There would be a significant amount of education that our school liaison officers will also have to undertake to ensure that we provide as much awareness as we can to our youth.”
Dubord clarified to the Reporter that cannabis-related overdoses involve having stomach cramps as well as passing out, which is colloquially known as “greening out.”
Additional Health Canada rules regarding edibles that the city supports include not adding vitamins, minerals, caffeine, alcohol or nicotine to cannabis products, and restrictions on appealing ingredients, especially sweeteners and colourants, that may result in accidental consumption or encourage over-consumption.
For extracts, Health Canada wants to prohibit “certain flavours that are appealing to youth from being displayed on a product label.” It also wants all production to be made in food safe environments so there is no chance of cross contamination or food-borne illnesses.