Ottawa (AFP) - Canada expects to start sales of cannabis-infused edibles by mid-December, while prohibiting pot products that might appeal to children such as gummy bears or lollipops, the government announced Friday.
The new regulations -- which follow last year's legalization of recreational cannabis use -- will come into effect on October 17. They will also apply to cannabis extracts and topicals.
However, officials told a media briefing that the new products are not expected to hit stores before mid-December as this relatively new industry takes off slowly and adjusts to consumer tastes.
"The amended regulations are the next step in our process to reduce the risks to public health and safety from edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals and displace the illegal market for these products in Canada," the government's point man on cannabis, Bill Blair, said in a statement.
Under the new regulations, cannabis-infused food or drink will not be permitted to contain more than 10 milligrams of THC -- the principal psychoactive compound in cannabis. For extracts and topicals the maximum will be 1,000 mg per package.
New consumers, however, are being urged to look for cannabis food or drink products containing only 2.5 mg of THC or less.
Health Canada explained that the effects of ingested cannabis may take up to two hours to be felt -- versus seconds to minutes for inhalation. Pot is also stronger when ingested.
Producers and distributors also cannot make health or dietary claims, and cannot combine or even associate pot products with alcoholic beverages -- so cannabis beer, which a handful of companies are developing, would not be allowed.
An estimated 5.4 million Canadians have purchased cannabis since it became legal on October 17, 2018, including more than 600,000 who tried it for the first time, according to the government statistical agency.