Marijuana edibles are going to become legal in Canada, just not right now. The fact is that marijuana legalization is far more complex than Canada or certain States in the USA had thought. There are a myriad of things that have to be taken into account before marijuana can be sold and it is not as simple as passing some legislation. Taxation, quality control, licenses, environmental concerns, enforcement, certification and more have to be considered, and there is not enough time to get all the requirement and infrastructure complete in time.
Delays in Canada
Colorado’s Daniel Vigil recently announced in the House of Commons that it was probably too soon to introduce marijuana edibles, and it would not be ready by the deadline of July 1st, 2018. He stated that: “I think ultimately they should be included, but it’s very important to get it right…If that takes some time and some learning from the smoked market, then I would be in agreement with that. I guess I would err on the side of giving it more time to not only work on the legislation, but also for other jurisdictions like Colorado and the other states in the United States that have legalized to continue to learn more.”
Recently the public health official who was in charge of the legalization of marijuana in California has praised the decision of Canada to delay the introduction of cannabis edibles, though they themselves had it legalized immediately. No pun intended, but Canada has enough on its plate trying to legalize marijuana in general and it is going anything but smoothly, with Ontario recently announcing that all marijuana sales were to be conducted by state owned stores. This news was met with chagrin to most of cannabis lovers in Ontario.
There are other reasons as to why it might be a good idea to delay edibles while proceeding with the legalization of inhaled marijuana. One is that edibles take longer for the effects to take hold, and there is arguably a greater risk. Users can ingest the edibles and believe that it has not had an effect, and they consume more in the meantime. The result is that the overdose hits the individual all at once. With an inhaled product, you inhale bit by bit and get an immediate sense of how potent the substance is. With THC edibles, there is no way of knowing, and people just have a tendency to keep eating instead of waiting for 20 minutes of so for the effects to kick in.
This has the potential for disaster, particularly for stoned driving, where a recently eaten edible might hit the driver. There is still the issue of how to test for stoned driving, and the short answer is that there isn’t any. THC levels vary from person to person, and two people with the same amount could each react differently. And that is if there is a reliable way to test for THC levels, which really there is not, and scientists are currently stumped as to how to test for the substance and what levels are acceptable or not.
Some in Canada believe that edibles should be legal straight away, and it would save headaches down the road. A John Hopkins University Professor has stated that the magnitude and effects of marijuana are identical in both edibles and smoked products. Though Ryan Vandry has spent years studying the effects of marijuana, most of both the anecdotal evidence and research suggest otherwise. Ingested and inhaled THC have different effects. But he does stipulate that the only real difference is the time delay, and that people are more aware when they are stoned, meaning they would be less likely to get into a car.
And this is something that has been backed up by data. In all states where marijuana was legalized, driving fatalities and accidents went down. Though there are many reasons why this could be the case, the most commonly accepted reason is that it is because marijuana is not as dangerous as alcohol as stoned drivers are not as reckless as intoxicated drivers. Another reason with regard to fatalities is that opiate addicts are a cause of many road fatalities and marijuana introduction results in a decrease in opiate addiction. According to expert witness Dana Larsen, a Vancouver dispensary runner speaking at the committee:
“I support adding edibles, and also other extracts as well: hashish, and all those kinds of things, both smokable and edible. That’s got to be part of legalization…This ‘go-slow’ thing, we’ve been going slow since 1971. It’s time to act, and not go slow.”
Slow or Fast?
It is hard to say what the right approach should be, but either way officials have their hands full with marijuana legalization at present. While edibles may not be more dangerous than smoking, the fact is that resources need to be diverted to smokable cannabis legalization first. Perhaps 6 months down the line edibles can be brought onto the market. The danger is that legislators will get sloppy and take a couple of years to introduce edibles to the market. This would be a disaster, as there is a market there and no real reason to exclude them from the market aside from a lack of available time and resources at present.