Legalizing cannabis edibles in Canada
On June 14, 2019, Health Canada published an initial News Release on the legalization of cannabis edibles. For a number of reasons, legal edibles on sale before Christmas 2019 might prove to be a stretch. If that is the case, there is also the possibility that edibles in Canada will face a slow grind toward legalization. Here is what we know so far.
The amended Cannabis Regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on June 26, 2019 and a copy can be requested at email@example.com.
As required by the Cannabis Act, the amended cannabis regulations will come into force on October 17, 2019.
However, Federal license holders must provide 60-days notice to Health Canada of their intent to sell new products. Notice cannot be given before October 17, 2019.
Health Canada advises that federally licensed processors will need time to become familiar with the new rules.
They add that provincially and territorially authorized distributors will need time to obtain new products to make them available for sale.
60 days from October 17th will be mid-December. Given the possibility of delays, to expect edibles on sale by Christmas is an aggressive forecast.
I will add my own wild card which is a Conservative government might be in power after the October 21st election and a new Health Minister might be appointed.
If the Conservatives replace the Liberals in the October 21, 2019 election, there could be a sea change in the Federal Government’s attitude from a strongly pro-cannabis position that saw Canada become the first G7 country to fully legalize cannabis to one that ran an equally anti-cannabis campaign in the last election just four years ago.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer stands a better than average chance of being the next Prime Minister of Canada. Some backroom boys speculate that Scheer is a puppet and one of his masters is former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. You might recall Harper and the Conservatives were so against cannabis in the last election, they spread what ranged from a negative exaggeration of the truth to outright misinformation. So a change in government from Liberal to Conservative will result probably result in a total slowdown in the pace of reform.
As we have said in the past, the cannabis genie is out of the bottle and won’t be put back in. It is my opinion that a reversal of legalization is inconceivable. The pension plan of Alberta has already disclosed they have invested in the cannabis industry but the amount is probably still relatively small. But the billions that have been invested in the industry in the good faith would be lost and it would be absolute political suicide.
However, one can only speculate what the stock market’s reaction would be if a new Conservative government appointed a Royal Commission on the legalization of cannabis. It would fit in the general definition that Royal Commissions only investigate matters of great importance and often of some controversy. Generally speaking once started a Royal Commission can last for years and cannot be stopped even by the government that initiated it. But it wouldn’t even have to be that drastic. They could simply order a two year study on the legalization of cannabis with a two-year deadline to report back. The market price of shares of companies operating under Canadian cannabis laws would crash and burn.
Finally, a Canadian federal government has to be really inept to last only one term. So a new Conservative would be an odds on favourite to win a second term by just avoiding scandal and controversy. If the Conservatives win in October, we could be facing eight years of an anti-cannabis government.