The Quebec government has decided to defy new federal regulations by banning the sale of chocolate and candy laced with cannabis.
Health Canada has already announced that it will permit edibles and other concentrates from Oct. 17, 2019, with the first products expected to hit shelves just before Christmas. However, the provincial government in Quebec feels that Ottawa’s new federal regulations are not robust enough to protect children.
“To reduce the risk of accidental poisoning in children, we are proposing a ban on the sale of products that are attractive to them, like chocolate and gummies,” said junior health minister Lionel Carman in a statement to the press.
He added that a ban on cannabis candies and desserts would allow Quebec to reduce the consumption of cannabis in general.
Federal regulations permit the sale of cannabis-based sweets, which must simply appear in plain and child-resistant packaging. They must clearly state each product’s THC and CBD content and the packs must contain a clear cannabis symbol on them, and they cannot resemble traditional candy.
Yet Quebec feels this is not enough, and it has also decided to ban cannabis topical creams in case they fall into the hands of children.
Michel Timperio, president of the Quebec Cannabis Industry Association, slammed the government for announcing the ban in the Gazette Officielle du Quebec without consulting the industry. He said it will play into the hands of the black market and organized crime.
The news represents a blow for cannabis consumers in Quebec. The nascent recreational cannabis industry has had a tumultuous start to life in the province, as a chronic lack of supply forced the Société québécoise du cannabis to close stores on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Consumption rates in the province rose from 10.4% in Q1 2018 to 11% in Q1 2019, but the black market is still thriving.
The legalization of edibles and topicals is set to boost the regulated cannabis industry across Canada, but that will be dented in Quebec by the government’s decision.
It is also seeking to raise the legal age of cannabis consumption to 21 in the province, which would be the highest legal age in the country. It has also launched a high-profile campaign warning Quebecois of the dangers of using cannabis and it continues to resist the liberalization seen at a national level.