Three new classes of cannabis products will become legal for manufacture and sale in Canada by October 17, 2019: edible cannabis, cannabis extracts, and cannabis topicals.
With the market for these cannabis products expected to quickly surpass the market for dried cannabis, industry stakeholders are paying close attention to the draft amendments to the Cannabis Act and Regulations that will dictate the parameters for composition of the products as well as packaging, labelling, and marketing rules. Health Canada is accepting feedback on the draft law until February 20, 2019, but in the meantime, below is a look at how some key food industries – the chocolate and beverage industries – are likely to be affected by the rules.
As of late 2018, fresh and dried cannabis, cannabis oil, and cannabis plants and plant seeds have been legal for manufacture and sale by authorized entities in Canada. The current Regulations do not permit the addition of anything other than cannabis to cannabis products, with the exception of cannabis oil which may contain a carrier oil and necessary preservatives. With the introduction of the new rules, holders of processing licenses will be able to manufacture the following products for sale to consumers:
– Edible cannabis: products containing cannabis that are intended to be consumed in the same manner as food (i.e. eaten or drunk);
– Cannabis extracts: products that are produced using extraction processing methods or by synthesizing phytocannabinoids; and
– Cannabis topicals: products that include cannabis as an ingredient and that are intended to be used on external body surfaces (i.e. skin, hair, and nails).
Packaging and Labelling Amendments
The plain packaging and labelling requirements that are already in force will apply to the new classes of cannabis products, which include the display of the standardized cannabis symbol, a health warning message, THC and CBD content, and child-resistant packaging. However, certain amendments are proposed to be made to the Regulations to allow for the use of expanded panels on labels (including a peel-back or accordion panel) to accommodate the smaller containers that are likely to be necessary with new restrictions on package sizes and because of new labelling requirements that will increase the amount of required information, including a nutrition facts table for edible cannabis products.
In the case of cannabis beverages, the Regulations are proposed to be amended to allow for the use of a naturally occurring metallic colour on the external surface of a container made of metal, which will allow for metal beverage cans. Additionally, an exception to the rule that the immediate container of a cannabis product cannot be pressurized is expected to be made such that edible cannabis in liquid form can be carbonated.
Cannabis in Chocolate
In addition to rules that will apply to all edible cannabis products – including the requirement that they be shelf-stable, limits on the total amount of THC (but not potency) of servings and packages, limits on claiming that the edible is a means of meeting a particular dietary requirement, restrictions on co-packaging with conventional food products, etc. – there are certain rules that will apply directly to chocolate containing cannabis. In particular, while the use of caffeine as a food additive will be prohibited, the use of ingredients containing naturally occurring caffeine (such as cacao beans) is proposed to be permitted in edible cannabis provided the total amount of caffeine in a package does not exceed 30 mg.
Several beer giants are reported to have partnered with Canadian cannabis producers to develop cannabis “beers” – brewed cannabis beverages with no alcohol content. The proposed Regulations, however, prohibit a representation associating the cannabis product or a brand element with an alcoholic beverage on a cannabis product or its package, label or panel. This restriction would prohibit the use of terms related to alcoholic beverages, including “beer,” on cannabis products. It would also prohibit the name or logo of a company that manufactures alcoholic beverages to be used on a cannabis product.
Health Canada considers that this prohibition reduces inducements to use cannabis, and that it is necessary given the “known health risks associated with the concurrent use of alcohol and cannabis.” While this may be the case, conforming with the rules will require an about-face by many who have begun to advertise their cannabis beverages as “cannabis beer.”
As always, the professionals at Aventum™ are available to help you with your IP strategy and to navigate the maze of cannabis rules and regulations.
For more information, contact Ashley Dumouchel.