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Innovation in Edibles

From chocolates to powder mixes, cannabis retailers will be showcasing a ton of innovation in edibles.

There are a few things you should know before edibles arrive on retail shelves.

First, edibles are just another cannabis product that will become legal under the Cannabis Act. That means you should be prepared for the products coming with a child-proof locking mechanism and the familiar standardized THC logo.

Second, be aware that the rollout will take time. The earliest that edibles can arrive on shelves is mid-December 2019, and even then we will see only a limited selection until 2020 when the selection will start ramping up.

Third, know that we will see a variety of product forms far surpassing what is currently allowed. Right now, the only ingestible products that retailers can sell are gel capsules and diluted cannabis oil, neither of which contains the breadth of ingredients that cannabis edibles will have.

What can we Expect?

Exactly what sort of SKUs will retailers be selling? In Ontario, the product call for edible products includes confectionary, baked goods, and dried powder mixes, however, it is likely that the agency is looking into all qualified edible submissions even if they don’t fit neatly into those categories.

The product call for edible products includes confectionary, baked goods, and dried powder mixes.

Restricting Ingredients and Claims

At its core, there are certain restrictions on any edible cannabis products. Vitamins and minerals cannot be added, nicotine and alcohol cannot be added, and there will be limits on caffeine to take into account the reality that chocolate can contain a small amount of caffeine. In addition, the products cannot be appealing to youth, cannot make health claims, and cannot make associations with alcohol, tobacco, or vaping products. Lastly, companies will not be able to make dietary or cosmetic claims about their cannabis edibles.

Curiously, there are no restrictions on what the edibles themselves may actually look or taste like, as adding sugars, sweeteners, or colours is only prohibited for ingested cannabis extracts. This prompted Quebec to recently call for its own rules as to which cannabis edibles and concentrates can be sold in the province’s publicly-run cannabis retailer.

Chocolate Edibles – The Next Frontier

Prepare for your shelves to have at least some chocolate. Some licensed producers of cannabis are betting big on chocolate edibles, specifically on the branding being used. Indiva, based in London, Ontario, struck a deal to be the exclusive manufacturer of cannabis edible products from BhangTM, a US-based brand that has developed goodwill from American markets. We don’t know exactly what products they will be producing in Canada, but in the American markets they have developed chocolates, tinctures, beet shots (yes, drinks with beet juice), as well as gum, gummies, and sprays.

Environmentally Conscious Packaging

Edibles purchased in Canada will have a federally mandated limit of 10mg per package. That means that more experienced users may need to buy multiple SKUs and quantities to obtain a desired effect.

Due to Health Canada’s packaging restrictions, recycling has become an issue as consumers are concerned about the excessive amount of packaging materials used. As waste concerns grow, you will find producers creating innovative packaging that is both discreet and environmentally friendly. We are already starting to see that with existing products. Producer 48North recently released a pack of pre-rolls that are in a 100% biodegradable box.

Dosing Guidelines

There is a lot of debate about whether the limit of 10mg. THC per package is high enough to accommodate more experienced users, who have a higher tolerance to THC compared to relative newbies. However, Bhang’sTM dosing guide states that 10mg “is for… edible pros only.” They suggest that new users consume approximately 5mg of THC and check how they are feeling 60 to 90 minutes later.

New Technology

Producers are also working on reducing the time for the THC to take effect and some claim that the effects can be felt starting in as few as five minutes. These are typically water-soluble and meant for cannabis beverages, although we will also likely see innovation on the edibles side too.

Producers are also working on reducing the time for the THC to take effect.

In the coming months, you may read about nano-encapsulation and nano-emulsion. While we’ll leave the science to the scientists, just know that some companies will try to push the limits in terms of the effects that are felt after consumption of their products.

No Fridge? No Problem.

One last thing you should know is that the federal government’s regulations on cannabis products prohibit the sale of edibles and liquids that require refrigeration.

This means that products will have to be shelf-stable, which may limit product selection, but will lessen the resources and burden that is placed on cannabis retailers.

With great power comes great responsibility, and it will be important that cannabis retailers and budtenders educate customers who walk through the door about the variety and effects of these new product classes.