Montreal

No pot brownies in Quebec as government clamps down further on cannabis

In order to make cannabis edibles less attractive for children, the Quebec government proposed stricter cannabis regulations.

New rules will also bar other cannabis desserts and sweets, as well as skin creams

People heading to legal cannabis dispensaries in Quebec won't find the same products available in other provinces come fall. Quebec is restricting the sale of edibles. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The Quebec government wants to ban the sale of cannabis candies and desserts, including chocolate, even as the sale of edibles will become legal in the rest of the country this fall.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the province's junior health minister said federal cannabis regulations don't go far enough in protecting children from accidentally consuming the drug.

"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," Lionel Carmant said in the statement.

"This will also allow us to reduce [the consumption] of cannabis products in general." 

The federal regulations on cannabis edibles, topical products — such as ointments and skin creams — and extracts are set to go into effect on Oct. 17, 2019.

They do not ban the sale of cannabis candies and other sweets, but do require packaging be plain and child-resistant.

The federal rules also state edible products can't contain nicotine; any added vitamins, minerals or alcohol; and are allowed to have only limited amounts of caffeine.

The new rules in Quebec will ban the sale of marijuana desserts, such as this cannabis cupcake. (The Canadian Press)

The regulations announced Wednesday are the latest measures proposed by the Coalition Avenir Québec government to restrict cannabis use in the province.

"I understand that," Linda Bassick told CBC Wednesday about the restrictions on edibles. "It looks deceiving and it looks like candy and they are quite strong. That's one of the reasons why I don't use them is because they're so strong. I don't like that. I feel like I can't regulate it as easily that way," she said.

Christopher Jabs says he's not convinced the restriction should be so extensive, as long as people are cautious about storing their products. "But then again it could still lead to a kid finding it. It's like guns. You don't really want it lying around," he said.

The government tabled a bill last year that seeks to raise the legal age of cannabis consumption to 21 in Quebec — the highest legal age in Canada.

The CAQ had also initially wanted to ban smoking cannabis in public places, such as parks. But they abandoned that idea in May, saying it was unenforceable.

Cannabis creams to be banned as well 

The regulations announced Wednesday only target edibles that might grab the attention of children. Other edibles, such as cannabis-infused butter, will be allowed. But these edibles too face new rules:

  • A package of solid edibles cannot contain more than 10 mg of THC (which is the same limit as federal regulations).
  • Liquid cannabis edibles cannot contain more than 5 mg of THC per package (the federal limit is 10 mg).
  • Cannabis skin, hair and nail creams will also not be allowed in Quebec.

Consumers seem to be less partial to restrictions on cannabis skin oils and cream. "I don't think that's necessary," Bassick said. "CBD [cannabidiol] oil is not the part that makes you intoxicated. It's just the part that relaxes you."

Felicity Little agrees. "Some of that stuff could help a lot of people," she said. "People probably with really dry skin that only CBD can help."

The CAQ has justified its tougher approach to cannabis by citing studies that question the drug's long-term impact on young peoples' mental health.

In May, the Montreal Children's Hospital asked parents to keep their cannabis edibles locked up and away from their children.

The new rules will be subject to a 45-day consultation period before they can take effect.

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