Canadians may finally be able to buy more than five standard cans of cannabis-infused drinks at their local pot shop, if the government passes newly proposed rules.
On Saturday, the government launched a 45-day public consultation asking the public’s opinion on several changes to the Cannabis Act. The amendments would raise the legal limit for public possession of cannabis beverages more than eight times than what’s currently allowed, as well as ease regulations on cannabis research and testing.
Under the Act, the maximum amount of pot people can buy and possess in public is 30 grams of dried flower or its government-defined equivalent for infused products.
But the equivalency ratio has been criticized by industry stakeholders as it places an outsized restriction on cannabis beverage purchases more than any other products.
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The current regulations state that one gram of dried pot is equal to around 70 millilitres of cannabis-infused water-based liquid, which means a person can possess up to around 2.1 litres of cannabis-infused drinks. Buying more is illegal, as it would violate the 30-gram limit.
A common critique from industry experts is that under the current law people can only buy five 355-millilitre cans at once, but are allowed to buy 45 10-gram chocolate bars or 60 half-gram pre-rolls. People can also walk out of a store with thousands of milligrams of THC in extract products.
If the new amendments are passed, one gram of dried cannabis would be deemed equivalent 570 millilitres, allowing a maximum of 17.1 litres without exceeding the 30 gram limit. This means customers could buy up to 48 355-millilitre cans, or eight six-packs at once.
The equivalency has been criticized by industry stakeholders as unpractical ever since beverages came to market, and many have been lobbying for change.
“The federal government should amend schedule 3 of the Cannabis Act to reference units of cannabis beverages instead of weight which would allow consumers to purchase a more reasonable number of low-concentration THC and CBD beverages. This is an easy fix that would go a long way; please make this change,” reads a letter sent to MPs by the Cannabis Council of Canada, a group of industry representatives.
According to Headset, cannabis drinks have a 2.1-per-cent share of the overall market as of the end of 2021.
In an analysis by ReportLinker, it’s projected that the global cannabis beverage market will reach US$2 billion in four years.
Other proposed amendments included in the current consultation include easing access to cannabis research and allowing human trials for non-medical product testing. Analytical testing licence holders and government labs could produce, distribute and sell cannabis test kits.
The changes would also loosen educational qualifications for head laboratory positions required for an analytical testing licence.
Canadians can comment under each of the proposed regulations via the Canada Gazette until April 25.