Edibles will be authorized for legal sale across Canada on October 17 and the first products should hit the market in mid-December, Health Canada has confirmed.

New regulations will permit retailers and distributors to sell edibles, extracts, and topicals by amending Schedule 4 of the Cannabis Act. Federal licence holders must provide Health Canada with 60 days’ notice of their intention to sell the products and the retail rollout is expected to take a couple of months.

This should give the industry time to build up an inventory, and ensure that shelves are full on the launch date. However, it could mean that supply shortages remain a major challenge for the nascent Canadian cannabis market. Health Canada warned that there will be a limited amount of products initially, and consumer choice will grow in the ensuing months.

Opponents of the move fear that edibles will appeal to children, while others have voiced concern that it could lead to overconsumption.

To assuage these fears, labels will be required to clearly state each product’s THC and CBD content and the packs must contain a clear cannabis symbol on them. Producers will have to adhere to strict rules to ensure they do not resemble traditional candy in any way.

Edibles and extracts will be limited to containing 10mg of THC per unit. A single package of extracts or topicals will be limited to 1 gram of THC. Topicals can include oils, ointment, and makeup.

The new regulations will ensure that cannabis cannot be mixed with alcohol or tobacco in a product. Restaurants will not be able to serve any food containing marijuana, while the rules also place a limit on cannabis advertising. All products must also be safe to consume without freezing or refrigeration.

Edibles products cannot be produced in facilities that foods are processed in, so as to avoid cross-contamination.

In a conference call today, Health Canada said it received input from more than 7,000 people in response to the consultation it launched in December 2018, and the majority of respondents supported the legalization of edibles.

Deloitte estimates the edibles and extracts market will be worth $2.7 billion a year in Canada. “The edibles market alone is estimated to be worth at least $1.6 billion a year in Canada, with cannabis-infused beverages adding a further $529 million,” said Deloitte partner Jennifer Lee.

It suggests that a further $174 million will come from topicals, $140 million from concentrates, $116 million from tinctures, and $114 million from capsules.

That is clearly dependent on the industry getting the products to market, as chronic supply shortages have severely hampered the sector’s performance in the first year of legal adult-use sales thus far.

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