Canada asks cannabis users to buy legal edibles after kids eat illicit ones

Canada’s federal health authority is advising consumers to buy cannabis exclusively from authorized retailers after reports of children eating illicit-market products.

“Children are accidentally ingesting illegal edible cannabis products and are experiencing serious harm resulting in hospitalization,” Health Canada warned in a public advisory.

“These products appeared similar to regular candies or foods and were stored in locations such as the fridge or freezer and without child-resistant packaging,” added the department.

Health Canada also reminded consumers to store cannabis products out of the reach of children.

Cannabis products sold without a federal excise stamp on the package are illegal, the regulator warned, and government rules ensure regulated cannabis edibles can’t contain any more than 10 milligrams of THC per package.

“If the retailer where you are considering making your purchase sells edible cannabis products that contain more than 10 mg of THC per package, then the retailer is selling illicit cannabis that is unregulated and untested,” Health Canada wrote.

Although many unregulated cannabis dispensaries have closed their doors and some have entered the legal market since adult-use legalization in October 2018, illicit cannabis edibles remain widely available across the country, especially through unlicensed online mail-order dispensaries that ship across provincial lines.

Those illicit edibles don’t necessarily adhere to Canada’s federal cannabis regulations.

On top of limiting THC, the rules established by the federal government require plain, child-resistant packaging with a warning symbol. They also  forbid products that could appeal to children.

Regulated edibles have been available to Canadian consumers since December 2019, despite severe supply limitations in the early months that have started to ease as new products hit the market.

However, market share of regulated cannabis edibles, beverages and other refined cannabis products currently lags behind vape pens, which launched at the same time.