BONNYVILLE – Cannabis consumers' wait for edibles is finally over now that local retailers have started offering the products.
Bonnyville's Canna Cabana is stocked with cannabis-infused treats such as soft chews, brownies, and chocolate squares.
Manager Lindsay Leighton said customers have been asking when these types of products would be hitting shelves since they became legal in Canada on Oct. 17, 2019.
The local retailer felt the demand in the first couple of days of offering edibles was high, Leighton said, noting they had a very limited supply left by the end of the week.
When the Nouvelle asked readers on social media their thoughts on edible products, Michael Hedges raised the issue of local businesses' ability to keep up with users’ requests.
“All the stores in the Lakeland keep running out of their products because the initial census was lame,” explained Hedges in a comment online. “If it’s going to be brought in, might as well fill the stores to the top and have more trucks on the way.”
Due to the interest, Leighton described the orders as a “lottery rush in the beginning because everybody’s racing to get them.” Canna Cabana is aiming to keep their shelves stocked in order to meet consumers’ needs, and their only concern is the AGLC being able to keep up.
"We've already noticed for our next order that it's already getting to be pretty slim pickings for the province," she noted.
When edibles became legal, Health Canada required interested retailers to provide 60-days notice that they wanted to sell the products. Under federal regulations, edibles, whether beverages or food, can only contain a maximum of 10-milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Edibles weren’t available for order from Health Canada until December 2019, and the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) said they wouldn’t be in stores until mid-January. According to Leighton, the local retailer wasn’t expecting to receive anything until around Valentine’s Day and were pleasantly surprised when they found out they would be able to sell them earlier.
Someone over the age of 18 can legally have up to 30-grams of marijuana or the comparable volume in other forms, such as edibles, in Alberta. According to the AGLC, 15-grams of marijuana is considered the equivalent of one-gram of dried cannabis.
Provincial law requires edible packaging to be child resistant, be a single colour, and to have a security feature.
While other provinces have had the products on store shelves for weeks, Alberta had to wait for edibles because of the AGLC.
Along with Alberta, Ontario and Quebec also had to wait for edibles because they don’t allow retailers to order directly from Health Canada.
Why it took so long for edibles to be sold locally was what had town resident Donna Foreman curious.
“I think the timing has taken a while, because British Columbia and other places have had them before us… I have friends saying they’ve tried them, and they’re used to them. I don’t really have much of an opinion about them because it’s so new to us,” she said.
Dr. Kristin Klein, Alberta Health Services (AHS) medical officer of health for the north zone, explained the biggest difference between ingesting and smoking marijuana is how long it takes to set in.
“When you’re smoking or inhaling cannabis, the effects are usually a maximum of 30 minutes after or within that 30-minute period. Whereas with edibles, it can take up to four hours,” she said, adding the delayed impacts have caused some users to ingest too much at one time.
“You can have extreme dysphoria, issues with cognition, difficulty thinking or with your reaction times, concentration, decision-making, and things like that. With a large amount, that can be even worse and maybe more than what you were looking for when using cannabis.”
To prevent overconsumption, Leighton suggests taking it slow if you’re unfamiliar with edibles.
“Always wait, and if it’s your first time start with a little bit for that experience. If you find that after that time it wasn’t enough, during your next round have another little piece. Gradually work yourself up to where you know your tolerance is.”
Children coming across THC-infused treats and confusing them with everyday sweets was an issue raised by readers.
“How will we know the difference between candies and edible cannabis?” wondered Nadine Deslauriers-Friesen in a social media comment to the Nouvelle. “I do understand (they’ll have specific) packages, but without them how will we know? To me, it’s like candy and medication. A red Tylenol looks like a red Smarties to a child, and we all know that accidents happen.”
Due to this fear, Leighton and Klein stress the importance of storing products properly, away from youth.
Klein stated, “There have been reports of both children and even pets getting into people’s cannabis, so it’s really important to keep them out of reach because it can be confused with normal food products and kids don’t know. On top of the health effects that they’re experiencing, they also don’t know what’s happening and that can be stressful and confusing.”
On the Nouvelle's social media post, Shauna Cox argued, “it should be treated just like alcohol in the home… You’re not going to keep alcohol where your kids can get it. You’re also not going to keep cannabis edibles where they can get it. It’s no different.”
Leanne Johnson added, “You can tell the difference between alcohol, juice, and pop though. I’m also worried about being able to recognize these edibles in schools.”
Kendra Krankowsky, mental health navigator with the Bonnyville Child and Adolescent Mental Health Collaborative, explained long-term consumption of marijuana has been shown to have negative results if consumed at a young age.
“The brain isn’t fully developed until 25-years-old, and cannabis is proven to impair brain development, which it can also be in cognitive functioning, impulse control, and it can also increase the risk of dependency the earlier that you start it in life,” she detailed.
According to Krankowsky, families have reached out to the mental health collaborative regarding CBD oil to assist children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but there hasn’t been any research confirming whether or not it helps those diagnosed.
“There’s honestly no evidence to support that it has any positive benefit to helping with that, but we do have families ask about CBD oil in particular,” she noted.
Along with edibles, extracts and topicals were also legalized in October 2019. Canna Cabana isn’t expecting extracts, which are mainly used for vaping that contain higher concentrations of cannabinoids, until mid-March. The sale of vaping products has been delayed in Alberta due to health concerns, and the province is waiting until a review is conducted of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act before they decide to make them available for purchase.