Canadian cannabis activists, led by NORML Canada, are urging the federal government to reconsider and significantly increase the current limit of 10 milligrams of THC per ediblecannabis-infused edible products.
A petition, supported by Canada’s Competition Bureau and the Ontario Cannabis Store, aims to increase the THC limit to 100 milligrams per package so cannabis businesses can effectively compete in the illicit market.
The regulatory context of edibles in Canada
Canada’s journey to cannabis legalization began in 2018, with the retail sale of cannabis extracts and edibles being allowed in 2019. Strict regulations were imposed on the potency of edibles, capping the THC content at 10 milligrams per package. For comparison, California, one of the major regulated markets in the United States, allows up to 100 milligrams of THC per package. The call to review these limits stems from fears that restrictive regulations could steer consumers towards illegal operators.
Jennawae Cavion, executive director of NORML Canada, argues that the current THC limit on edibles creates a significant disadvantage for licensed companies. In an interview given to National PostJennawae Cavion points out that due to the low power of ediblesit is difficult for legal retailers to compete with illicit operators.
The petition to raise THC limits is gaining credibility with the support of reputable organizations such as the Competition Bureau of Canada and the Ontario Cannabis Store. These two entities have urged Health Canada to reconsider the current THC limits. The Competition Bureau specifically notes that it may not be necessary to restrict THC levels to meet the government’s objectives, emphasizing the need to maintain a competitive business environment.
A group of independent experts, created in 2022, recently published its first report. This report notes divergent opinions on the THC cap, with some speaking out against large-scale changes soon after the regulations were implemented. Critics argue that the 10-milligram limit was set to prevent overconsumption by inexperienced users.
Michael DeVillaer, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at McMaster University, is concerned about the potential public health risks associated with increasing THC limits. It urges the petitioners to provide market research demonstrating strong consumer demand for such products.
Patrick Weiler, the Liberal MP who sponsored the petition, emphasizes the need to meet consumer demand for higher THC limits. He believes increasing the THC cap will encourage consumers to choose regulated sources over the illicit market, while reducing excessive packaging and maintaining the success of Canada’s cannabis legalization.
In 2022, Canadian companies had already called on the government to increase the limit to 100 mg of THC per package, without success.