Should Canadians be demanding more from edibles and tinctures?

Published May 27, 2019 12:04 p.m. ET
Should we have access to more potent, larger size and better-tasting tinctures and edibles? Credit: Nisangha

The Canadian cannabis industry has gotten off to a slow start since legalization came into effect seven months ago on October 17 of 2018. Many blame the strict regulations that the federal government has enforced, which entirely prohibited the sales of marijuana edibles and concentrates. This has left cannabis dispensary owners with very few options for interested consumers seeking a healthier alternative to smoking or vaping. It took several months of public backlash and watching the black market cannabis industry thrive before the Canadian government announced that it’d help citizens would finally have access to marijuana edibles, and other concentrates like topicals, sprays, drinks, capsule, tinctures, oil, and anything else that wasn’t in it’s pure cured form.

Though many cannabis enthusiasts celebrated this announcement, many others sat back and waited for the recommended list of exclusions that was expected to include things like cannabinoid limits, color, smells, added flavor, sugars, and advertising restrictions. Now that those numbers have been released, the future for the cannabis industry and marijuana edibles is looking rather bleak. The biggest competitors out there for the legal pot industry are the black-market dealers and dispensaries, who are already selling delicious treats like chocolate bars, brownies, lollipops, cannabis drinks, and hundreds of other options that are shipped from areas with far fewer restrictions. Will the Canadian market even have a chance come October? That’s what we set out to find out.

Where did the Canadian government go wrong with marijuana edibles and tincture regulations?

Here you will find a few of the most critical flaws in the current federal regulations surrounding marijuana edibles and tinctures, as well as a description of what might be necessary to change, to remain competitive. Especially if the end goal is truly to shut down the quickly growing black market.

Cannabinoid limits

The Canadian government appears to have decided on incredibly low THC maximums in both edibles and tinctures, with marijuana edibles receiving the lowest limit of any other cannabis-derived product.

  1. Edibles - Marijuana edibles will be limited to 10mg of THC per package.
  2. Drinks - Cannabis drinks will be limited to 10mg of THC per package.
  3. Tinctures - Marijuana tinctures are the only product that has received a much higher maximum with 100mg of THC per package allowed.

No added flavors

Tinctures may have the highest amount of THC, but they were also given the strictest ingredients regulations. Marijuana tinctures will not be allowed to contain any added flavors, including nicotine or caffeine, and no concentrated products will contain added minerals or vitamins either. This may not seem like a huge deal, but with tinctures being alcohol based, and mainly used for medicinal purposes, the ability to add a little bit of lemon or some other flavor to cover the taste is essential for many consumers.

No added sugars

Through the Canadian government has now decided to allow some sugars in marijuana edibles and cannabis drinks, tinctures will not be allowed to contain any added sugars, colors, or sweeteners.

No advertising

The ability to advertise is often enough to make or break a company, but the cannabis industry leaders who choose to manufacture and or sell marijuana-infused products will not be allowed to advertise in the same way that alcohol is. The advertising for these products in Canada must not appeal to children, must not make any health or dietary claims, and must not contain elements that might associate alcohol use with a cannabis-derived product.

Restrictive packaging controls

There are a few common sense restrictions that must be followed by marijuana edibles and tinctures producers like every product must contain labels that clearly show ingredients, THC and THC content, directions for use, and a standardized cannabis symbol to keep infused items easily recognizable, there are many that are restrictive, and just plain wasteful. The maximum of 10 mg per package is for the entirety of the package, which means that separate 10 mg doses cannot be included in the same wrapper. Instead, they must be kept separate, and each one must come in child-proof and or resistant packaging.


No mimicking of pre-existing store-bought food products

Marijuana edibles will not be allowed to mimic other brands of food that already exist, so for example, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup that is infused with cannabis much use a completely unassociated name.

No alcohol in cannabis products

This one is confusing for consumers who can buy alcohol filled version of almost anything that you could imagine. There will be no combining of alcohol and cannabis infused products at all, with the only exception being tinctures which require the addition of alcohol to extract and administer the cannabinoids.

What will happen if changes aren’t made to these released recommendations when they become law?

If you aren’t already a regular consumer of these types of cannabis infused products, than you might not see the problem with the regulations that are listed above, but those of us who have seen and experienced some of this insanity first hand are very aware of the complications and problems that have already arisen from similar restrictions with bud products that are already available in stores.

  • Black market dispensaries and regions with much less stringent restrictions will package edibles that go all the way up to 2000 mg in less than 14 of the packaging.

  • Not only is this extra wrapping going to cause a whole tone of waste, but it’s also going to make these brand-new items expensive for manufacturers to produce.

  • 10 mg of THC is not enough dose of THC for a more seasoned cannabis consumer which will need multiple packages and is not going to compete well with the other options that are out there.

  • Marijuana tinctures are made with alcohol, which naturally tastes quite strong on its own. Taking away the ability to flavor these products is going to make them difficult for patients and recreational consumers to enjoy or use.

  • Much of any food products appeal is in how it looks to the customer. With these packaging restrictions, the marijuana edibles will never be visible to potential consumers making them more difficult to sell.

If some of these regulations go forward as is, I think it’s relatively safe to say that the black market in Canada will continue to thrive. Since it will be the only option available that provides consumers with the products that they truly want, in a manner that is both appealing and affordable, it makes sense to assume that any new companies trying to manufacture these types of cannabis infused products are going to have a hard time being successful in the legal marijuana market. Though only time will show for certain, things aren’t looking good for the future of legal marijuana edibles or tinctures in Canada.



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