Pubdate: Tue, 26 Sep 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jacquie Miller
Page: A5


Only dried pot and oil included in plans for first round of
legalization in 2018

Nearly half of Canadians say they are interested in trying
cannabis-laced edibles such as brownies when marijuana is legalized,
according to a study by Dalhousie University professors.

The survey also found that 39 per cent of respondents would be willing
to order a dish made with marijuana at a restaurant, but most said
they would have no idea how to cook with cannabis at home.

The study was led by Faculty of Management professor Sylvain
Charlebois, a specialist in food distribution and policy.

It's bound to contribute to the debate over what edible cannabis
products should be made available, and how quickly. The federal
government has promised to legalize recreational pot by July 1, 2018.
Only dried weed and cannabis oil will be for sale initially. Edible
products will be regulated later, but the government has given no time

Health Canada says it needs time to consider the "unique potential
health risks and harms" of edible products. Over-consumption is a
concern with edibles, for example, because new users might not realize
it can take several hours for them to take effect. Candy, cookies and
other edibles may be attractive to children.

Charlebois said his study suggests the government should move quickly
to regulate edible products while educating Canadians about their
risks. He makes the same argument employed by cannabis advocates and
business people: Edibles are popular, and Canadians will buy them on
the black market if they aren't sold legally.

Everything from cannabis cookies to cotton candy is now sold at
illegal dispensaries and through online stores. Those products are
unregulated. Health Canada says they might be unsafe, and they rarely
come in childproof packages. In Ottawa, dispensary shelves have been
stocked with cookies, brownies, gummy candies shaped like teddy bears
and Lego blocks, marshmallow treats, cans of pop and candy bars with
labels designed to mimic popular treats like Snickers bars. Many boast
high levels of THC, the psychoactive component that makes users high.

"If you allow industry to manufacture these products under clear
guidelines you will be at lesser risk," Charlebois said in an interview.

Health Canada hasn't studied how many Canadians will want to use
edibles, spokesperson Sindy Souffront said.

But the department estimates that four-to-six-million Canadians will
use recreational pot in 2018, based on surveys by government and
private companies of current marijuana usage.

In contrast, the Dalhousie study found that 45.8 per cent of
respondents said they would buy edible marijuana-infused products if
they were available. Extrapolated to Canada as a whole, that
represents 16 million Canadians.

Charlebois said he was surprised by the high number. "It's mainly
curiosity," he speculated. In response to a question about why they
would buy a cannabis food product or order one in a restaurant, 46.9
per cent of respondents said they were curious; 44.5 per cent cited
the psychoactive or therapeutic effects.

The study demonstrated some confusion, Charlebois said. "There are
lots of mixed messages."

While many people said they'd like to try edibles, a majority (59.8
per cent) also said they were concerned about eating too much and
worried the effects would be too strong. And 58 per cent of
respondents agreed they were concerned about the risks for children
and young adults who will have more access to marijuana once
recreational use is legalized.

Most respondents said they didn't know enough about cannabis to cook
with it at home, and only a small number (12 per cent) considered it a
healthy ingredient in their diet.

Among those who said they'd try an edible, the most popular choice
(46.1 per cent) was baked goods like brownies and muffins, followed by
candy (26.6 per cent), oil (24.2 per cent), spices (18 per cent) and
drinks (17.2 per cent).

The study involved 1,087 respondents surveyed in August and has an
estimated margin of error of 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Canada's regulations on edibles are expected to borrow heavily from
lessons learned in Colorado and Washington, the first two U.S. states
to legalize recreational marijuana.

In Canada, the federal government has said it will require
standardized servings and potency, child-resistant packaging and
health warnings on edible products.

On average, edibles take effect after 30 minutes, reach their peak at
1 1/2 hours and have a total duration of six to eight hours, depending
on the dose, he said.
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