Proposed Regulations On Edibles Give Canada's Black Market More Opportunity

March 12, 2019

By Brian Henry

As Canada's self-imposed October deadline to regulate cannabis edibles draws nearer, there is one question on everyone's minds: how much regulation is too much?

Too little may risk health dangers, while too much may encourage an already-robust black market.

"If the government is overbearing in their restrictions and you want edibles and you know sort of what dose you can handle, you're just going to keep going to where you got it before," Manisha Krishnan, senior writer and host at Vice, told Cheddar Tuesday.

Canada's federal government has proposed regulations for edibles that would limit the amount of THC to 10 mg per edible and require each 10 mg to be individually wrapped.

"I think the issue is because edibles are much more tricky in terms of dosing and knowing when they're going to kick in," Krishnan said. "I think they are worried people will see something small ー like a gummy bear ー and just want to each a bunch of them because that's what you intuitively would want to do. That's the logic behind keeping it to 10 milligrams."

"Having said that, I think keeping it 10 milligrams per package is a little bit of overkill."

Those in the legal cannabis industry are cautiously optimistic about the guidelines, according to Krishnan.

"The truth is they don't want to piss off the government," he noted. "Everything is federally regulated in Canada. They're saying, 'OK, maybe this 10 mg limit is reasonable because we're gonna start low and go slow.'"

But Krishnan said that Canada already had a "very sophisticated black market that has been operating for decades" and experienced users know how to seek out higher doses.

The government proposal also includes restrictions on adding sweeteners or coloring that could make THC-infused food more appealing to kids. Since the proposal, Canadian health officials have advocated in favor of a ban.

"What we do know is that chief medical officers in major cities such as Toronto and Ottawa are calling for an all-out ban on anything that can be appealing to kids," Krishnan told Cheddar. "So gummy bears, lollipops, things that look like really popular cookies, could be banned."

The rollout of legalized marijuana in Canada has not been easy.

"In Ontario where I live, it's the largest province, it's the most populated. We don't have a single legal store. We don't have a single retail store where I could go and buy weed in this entire province right now. The black market is probably doing just fine in Ontario at this point. I think the same thing will be true for edibles."

For full interview click here.