Edibles

On October 17, 2019 the legal sale of edible cannabis will be authorized under the Cannabis Act. The edible cannabis class includes products containing cannabis that are intended to be consumed in the same manner as food (ie. eaten or drunk).

A processing licence (standard or micro) is required in order to produce edible cannabis and to package and label this type of cannabis product for sale to consumers. In order to sell products within this new class of cannabis, individual licensed processors will need to apply to Health Canada to amend their licence.

It is important to note that the Quality Assurance Person is required to have the necessary training, experience, and technical knowledge applicable to the class of cannabis they are producing. If the Quality Assurance Person does not have the qualifications required for edible cannabis, the licensed processor must retain the services of another individual with the necessary qualifications.

With respect to edible cannabis, the amended Cannabis Regulations include changes such as:

Restricting the use of certain types of ingredients (no added vitamins or minerals) and limiting the use of others (caffeine).

Placing a limit of 10 mg of THC in each individual package of edible cannabis product.

Requiring child-resistant and plain packaging for edible cannabis. All packaging is required to display the standardized cannabis symbol and a health warning message.

Prohibiting any claims regarding health, dietary or cosmetic benefits on the label.

Requiring the production, packaging, labelling, and storage of edible cannabis products to be conducted in a separate building from the production, packaging, and labelling of food products.

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The amended Cannabis Regulations will maintain the core plain packaging and labelling requirements that currently apply to all cannabis products, such as the standardized cannabis symbol, health warning messages, THC and CBD quantity or concentration, and child-resistant packaging. In addition to the current labelling requirements that apply to all cannabis products, the following information will be required on the label of all edible cannabis products:
1. Equivalency to dried cannabis to determine public possession limit
2. The common name of the cannabis product
3. Ingredient List
4. Allergens
5. Nutrition Facts Table
6. A ‘durable life date’ (best-before date) for any edible cannabis having a durable life of 90 days or less

All edible cannabis products must be shelf-stable and cannot require refrigeration or freezing. The use of meat, poultry and fish products will be restricted exclusively to dried products. Additives are limited to food and food additives in accordance with the Food and Drug Regulations. The sale of edible cannabis products in a hermetically sealed container (ie. can) are prohibited if the edible cannabis product has a pH above 4.6 and a water activity higher than 0.85 at a temperature of 22°C.

Caffeine is not permitted as a food additive, however naturally occurring caffeine such as that found in chocolate or coffee will be allowed if it does not exceed 30 mg per individual package.
The Regulations also permit small amounts of ethyl alcohol (not to exceed 0.5% w/w) as this can be a by-product of fermented products such as kombucha or vinegar.

The immediate container of edible cannabis products must be ‘food-grade’ and meet the requirements of the Food and Drug Regulations and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. Multi-packs of edible cannabis will be permitted provided the total quantity of THC in the multi-pack does not exceed 10 mg and the total amount of cannabis in the multi-pack does not exceed the public possession limit of 30 grams (dried cannabis equivalent). It is a requirement that each of the products in the multi-pack be consistent (no sampler packs). 

Edible cannabis products cannot contain anything that would be considered harmful or unsafe under the Food and Drugs Act.
​Additionally, edible cannabis products must not be appealing to youth and must not contain elements that would associate the product with alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or vaping products. This requirement also applies to the other new classes of cannabis products (topicals and extracts).

Food Safety Requirements

With the legalization of edible cannabis products, there are many public health and safety risks to consider including food-borne illness and cross-contamination. Manufacturers of edible cannabis and cannabis extracts will need strict manufacturing controls for production and handling, including development and implementation of a written Preventive Control Plan (PCP). These new control measures are drawn from and align with requirements that apply to food products under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.

A Preventive Control Plan (PCP) is a written plan that demonstrates how hazards to your food are identified and prevented, eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level. The PCP is based on the internationally accepted principles of Codex Alimentarius General Principles of Food Hygiene and includes elements relating to packaging, labelling, grading, standards of identity and food safety.

When it comes to preparing your PCP, some questions to think about are:

Does your PCP cover all the risk assessment of all potential hazards?

Does your PCP answer the who, what, when and how of the designed process?

Does your PCP describe the risks to food, including how they are controlled?

Does your PCP describe the measures to take to meet other regulatory requirements for standards, packaging and labelling?

Licensed processors (that produce edible cannabis or cannabis extracts) are required to prepare, retain, maintain and implement a PCP to identify and address through effective control measures any potential hazards that pose a risk of contamination for these products. The Quality Assurance Person (QAP) must sign-off on the PCP prior to its implementation. Furthermore, the PCP must include documents that show evidence that the requirements of the PCP have been met. A PCP must be reviewed and updated when there are changes to any of the conditions considered during the PCP development process. This include changes to process, ingredients, regulatory requirement, formulations, responsibilities etc.

Licensed processors looking to manufacture edible cannabis products or cannabis extracts should also consider the following:

The manufacture of all cannabis products (cannabis edibles, cannabis extracts, cannabis topicals) in the same building as regular food products is prohibited. The production, packaging, labelling, and storage of cannabis and the production, packaging, and labelling of food products will need to be conducted in separate buildings.

Food-grade packaging (i.e. packaging that meets requirements set out in the Food and Drugs Regulations and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations for food) must be used for the immediate container of edible cannabis and for any wrappers of edible cannabis and cannabis extracts intended to be ingested.

Only food and food additives will be allowed to be used as ingredients in edible cannabis products. Edible cannabis products will not be allowed to contain poisonous or harmful substances, nor will it be permitted to fortify edible cannabis with vitamins or mineral nutrients.

Edible cannabis products must be shelf stable (i.e. not requiring refrigeration or freezing) and ingredients such as raw meat, poultry and fish are strictly prohibited.

Edible cannabis products as well as ANY ingredients used to produce them will be subject to controls that are designed to address the risks of food-borne illness and contamination.

 Due to the regulatory requirement that Licence Holders must provide Health Canada with 60 days notice of a new product, edible cannabis products will not be available for sale until mid December 2019.

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