Global marijuana trailblazer unlikely to chew on the edible marijuana trend
Canada’s highest court released in June its long awaited Smith decision about the constitutional rights to use marijuana edibles but we are a long way to provide the needs of customers.
Canada is especially significant because it is the only federal jurisdiction in the world where medical marijuana is legislated. And so, Canada has become the trailblazer of the global marijuana movement.
A scary thought to industry insiders.
Still we have much to learn from Colorado, which suggests that the future of the marijuana industry may in fact, lie in the edibles and derivative market.
On page 9 of a study prepared for the Colorado Department of Revenue, The Marijuana Policy Group (MPG) described a slow, but steady shift away from smoking marijuana, the traditional way of consuming marijuana, to alternative methods such as edibles, vaporizers, concentrates, lotions and salves.
The commercialization of medical marijuana in Colorado and the 2010 state law permitting the commercial production and distribution of medical marihuana inspired the proliferation of new consumer markets, through which marihuana was distributed. These new consumable products included candies, baked goods, beverages etc. However, the necessary food safety, quality assurance and standardized dosing levels were not yet in place and THC levels can reach significant potency levels, almost 90% in hashish. To fully complicate matters, each alternative consumption methods are unique. They each can possess different strengths and can result in different effects on the human body. Ingesting marihuana, for example, induces different reactions than smoking it, some of which can be delayed for hours.
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To protect the public there is an urgent need to fully standardize concentrations throughout products, manufacturers will have to be able to convert the specific amount of THC needed per product back to the dry-weight of the marihuana.
In principle, the recent Canadian court ruling should facilitate the emergence of the marijuana derivative market. But there is a Grand Canyon of uncertainty between the findings from the Supreme Court of Canada and the licensed producers meeting the needs of medical marijuana users.
The elephant in the room has a giant red maple leaf painted on the side: Health Canada. Health Canada’s past records does not bode well for the integration of edibles and derivatives into the MMPR stream.
Take the current MMPR legislation and how it has been managed by Health Canada. A plethora of applicants (north of 1,100 applicants) has sent forward applications to become licensed producers. Where are we now? Twenty-five applicants have received production licenses from Health Canada. The rest have been rejected or have been relegated to licensing purgatory.
On July 29 The Federal Court of Canada has certified a class-action lawsuit involving 40,000 people in the medical marijuana access program. The case was initiated in 2013 after Health Canada sent letters to people with the program’s name on the envelope. Before that, mail sent to individuals in the program didn’t mention marijuana.
Late last year, lawyers for New Age Medical Solutions Inc., which has a grow facility in rural British Columbia, filed a motion in Federal Court last week against Health Minister Rona Ambrose, asking that a judge review the decision not to grant a licence.
The company, founded and run by marijuana activist Sam Mellace, applied almost a year ago to become a licensed producer, under new Health Canada rules that are creating a billion-dollar commercial industry. But Health Canada rejected the application Aug. 10, saying the firm had not hired an acceptable quality-assurance specialist.
Assuming that MMPR survives the current court challenges I think we are years before edibles and derivatives are permitted through licensed producers because of the snail pace at which new regulations are implemented by Health Canada.
Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>