Legalization 2.0 has arrived. But for all the hype, the rollout of cannabis edibles and concentrates so far has the whiff of the old Henry Ford quote about the Model T. You can have it in any colour you like, so long as it’s black.
Some of the more bizarre and innovative products already announced in the lead-up to legal edibles — like Munchy Brothers’ lineup of cannabis-infused ketchup and mustard packets — are nowhere to be seen. Neither are some of the more ambitious beverage creations. That includes Province Brands’ beer brewed from the stalks and leaves of cannabis. Likewise for the infused beer and wine promised by Hill St. Beverages.
Regulatory inertia is partly to blame. But some of the country’s most well-regarded producers — Broken Coast and 7ACRES, for instance — are avoiding the edibles market altogether for now, focusing instead on flower.
For consumers, the end result is a generally uninspiring selection, at least for the time being.
It’s one of the things that will make you crazy about the Canadian cannabis industry. Big announcements are made, headlines follow and then disappointment.
Only a small selection was available on December 17, the first day that edibles were allowed to legally go on sale in Canada. As the clock ticks over to 2020, however, a few more products have begun trickling out. And it’s vapes that are the biggest additions to the dozens of products announced for the market.
Aphria, for example, has announced the sale of no less than 12 types of disposable and non-disposable vape pens under a variety of different names.
Peace Naturals, the company behind the Cove and Spinach brands, will be selling seven different cartridges.
But vapes continue to face stiff regulation, even as they are expected to make up a sizeable chunk of purchases where they are legally available.
On January 2, Alberta decided to press pause on vape sales in an 11th-hour move until more information into vaping-related lung illness is available. Quebec has banned THC vapes (CBD vapes remain legal) and Newfoundland & Labrador has banned the sale of vape pens altogether.
Chocolates, cookies and gummies (or “soft chews,” as companies have begun calling them to satisfy Health Canada concerns over marketing to minors), are also on the list of available products, but the variety remains limited.
Aurora’s sea salt and caramel milk chocolates come in boxes of five.
Tweed is selling complete chocolate bars (made via their partnership with the artisan Hummingbird Chocolate company) that are designed to be broken up into several servings.
Meanwhile, cannabis beverages have not been popular in U.S. states where cannabis is legal, but the Canadian market seems more enthusiastic. Tweed is offering a variety of beverages, although few have so far made it to stores.
That there are few surprises in the product lineup suggests an industry-wide mood of caution, which makes sense with many companies watching the bottom line.
But maybe the most disappointing part of Legalization 2.0 is that, for large parts of the country, edibles will take some time to get to stores.
Wholesale orders, for example, have been slow to appear in stores in Western Canada. For the time being, selection also remains extremely limited in Atlantic Canada, and is basically non-existent in the North. Retailers in Ontario will be able to begin ordering from wholesalers beginning this week.
But there are not a lot of options for experienced users. The edibles available come in low doses.
To be fair, part of that has to do with Health Canada’s 10-milligram maximum placed on THC doses. The amount is not enough, in many cases, to offer relief to medical marijuana patients or anyone with edibles experience who’s developed a basic level of tolerance.
And when it comes to concentrates like shatter and hash, there’s next to zero available.
The only hash products being sold legally — B.C. Bubble Hash by CannaFarms — isn’t actually hash, it’s just kief. It’s like ordering a loaf of bread and getting a bag of flour – all the parts are all there, you just have to put it together yourself.
Either the heaviest consumers of cannabis are being forgotten or they’re being ignored, which is bad business for producers if the goal is to put the illicit market out of business.
There’s no clear timeline for when new products will be announced. Here’s hoping the second phase of Legalization 2.0 offers something more spectacular.