Calgary

Why Calgarians won't be getting cannabis edibles for Christmas

Cannabis edibles were made available for purchase in some parts of Canada this month, but Calgarians hoping to find pot gummies in their stockings will be disappointed — they likely won't be legally available in Alberta until January.

Queen of Bud manager Amy Sadler explains some of the delays in Alberta's edibles industry

Cannabis edibles, CBD infused gummies, and other products became legal in December. (Shutterstock/Victor Moussa)

Cannabis edibles were made available for purchase in some parts of Canada this month, but Calgarians hoping to find pot gummies in their stockings will be disappointed — they likely won't be legally available in Alberta until January.

When dried cannabis became legal for recreational use in October 2018, the government continued consultations on rules for edibles and other products, which wrapped up last summer.

The regulations gave authorized distributors and retailers access to three new classes of cannabis products: edibles (such as candy and baked goods), cannabis "topicals" (including ointments, oils and makeup) and cannabis extracts.

Although cannabis derivatives have been cleared for sale in Alberta, they have yet to hit the shelves, and Queen of Bud store manager Amy Sadler says the provincial delay can be partially attributed to manufacturing and logistics.

"When something is not legal, they can't legally start producing it, or manufacturing it, or starting any of that process. So, [cannabis retailers] had to wait to legalization to even start any of that," Sadler told the Calgary Eyeopener on Dec. 24.

Health Canada has released rigorous regulations for cannabis edibles that include strict packaging and labelling requirements. Officials say those requirements are designed to limit the appeal of cannabis products and reduce the risk of food-borne illness or over-consumption.

"Many people need to approve labelling, packaging, dosages, recipes ... so, it's just taking a little bit longer," Sadler said. "And unfortunately, in Alberta it's going to take a little bit longer than other provinces."

Customers asking about edibles 'every day'

Alberta runs its own distribution system rather than allowing producers to ship directly to retailers, and so do Ontario and Quebec. This means edibles in three of Canada's largest provinces are facing delays.

"Other provinces have other regulatory boards, so they just have different ways of getting product to their stores," Sadler said.

In the meantime, Sadler told the Eyeopener that people are asking about cannabis edibles "every day." 

"I think businesses are suffering because of [the delay]," Sadler said. "There is a silver wave coming of retirees and baby boomers who don't want to consume cannabis by smoking it. They want to drink a tea, or use a topical, or eat a gummy bear, because it's safer for their lungs and their bodies."

When cannabis derivatives do become available, Sadler says Calgarians can expect carefully labelled gummies, chocolate, mints, teas and low-calorie drinks.

"Everything will be right there: how many milligrams are in the pack, how many each gummy or chocolate will be. And it's all very precise."

That precision can help customers learn what works best for them, and Sadler advises first-time users to indulge mindfully until they understand their tolerance.

"When consuming cannabis like that in an edible form, people need to know that everybody's body works differently. So you can't go off what your friend told you," Sadler said. 

"We always recommend when somebody first tries consuming cannabis in that way, please do it in the safety of your own home, when you have really nothing else to do, just in case you accidentally have taken too much when you're first starting."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener, Amanda Pfeffer, Jose St-Onge and Kathleen Harris

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