Quebec effectively bans cannabis vape products but still plans to open 15 more stores

(This story has been updated with a statement from the Ontario Cannabis Store.)

Quebec will not allow cannabis vaping products to be sold through regulated channels, though the province might reconsider its position in the future.

It is the latest blow to legal businesses trying to eke out market share in Canada’s second-largest province.

Quebec’s monopoly cannabis retailer – Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) – will not carry the popular products when they go on sale across Canada in the coming months, a spokesman confirmed to Marijuana Business Daily.

“For the moment, no we will not sell vaping product starting on Jan. 1 because, in the light of many health problems recently discovered in the U.S., we’re uncomfortable with the idea of selling such products,” SQDC spokesman Fabrice Giguere wrote in an email.

“We do not have enough data allowing us to determine the source of these problems. This decision was also legitimized yesterday by our National Public Health Director who issued a public health warning asking us not to sell vaping products until further notice.”

Quebec is still planning to expand the number of stores servicing the legal industry to 43 by March 31, 2020, an increase from the current 28.

An inability to sell vape products is a blow to federally regulated cannabis producers supplying Quebec’s adult-use marijuana stores, such as Gatineau-based Hexo Corp.

It will also keep in the illicit-market transactions out of sight from the watchful eyes of the province’s health regulators.

Quebec’s government has thus far failed to convert a meaningful share of illicit sales to the regulated sector.

In August, receipts by the province’s monopoly retailer totaled 26.7 million Canadian dollars ($19.5 million).

While that is good enough to rank No. 2 in Canada, the vast majority of the cannabis sector in Quebec remains in the hands of the illicit market.

Quebec’s government has made doing business in the regulated cannabis industry difficult.

The province recently amended its law governing cannabis, raising the legal age of consumption to 21 and forbidding consumption in indoor or outdoor public spaces.

Quebec’s new rules also ban cannabis edibles in the form of desserts, chocolates or any other product that is appealing to those younger than 21.

The changes go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The effective ban on cannabis vaping and the new restrictions on edibles in Quebec put a damper on what is expected to be a lucrative market.

Edibles, extracts and topical cannabis products are going to slowly be introduced into the market in the rest of Canada starting in mid-December.

Other provinces

British Columbia is also erecting barriers for future sales of cannabis vaping products.

That province plans to add a 20% tax on retail sales of cannabis vaporizer products.

The Cannabis Council of Canada, an industry body representing federally regulated marijuana producers, criticized the measure, saying it would strengthen B.C.’s thriving illicit market.

Ontario intends to distribute all new product categories through its online channel and to authorized retailers.

“These new products will offer legal, tested, regulated alternatives to products currently offered in the illegal marketplace with no regulation or accountability,” said Daffyd Roderick, communications director for the Ontario Cannabis Store.

“The OCS expects federally licensed producers to take accountability for ensuring products comply with all regulatory requirements and meet consumer expectations.”

Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto, Ontario. He can be reached at [email protected].
4 comments on “Quebec effectively bans cannabis vape products but still plans to open 15 more stores
  1. Bryce on

    A flavor ban is a bad idea. It’s not exactly difficult to add artificial flavoring to unflavored nicotine liquid at home and it’s a lot cheaper too. Artificial flavoring is legal because half the food industry uses it. Unfortunately people are going to get sick and possibly die from mixing their own flavored nicotine liquid at home if they don’t know what they are doing.The only way to purchase flavored nicotine after its banned will be to buy it illegally on the street where it isn’t regulated. It’s only a matter of time until the articles come out about people accidentally poisoning themselves and others by creating flavored nicotine liquid at home. Prohibition doesn’t work because people are going to vape flavored nicotine liquid regardless of its legal status. At least fewer people die when it’s legal thanks to lab testing.

    Reply
  2. Charlie on

    What they need to do is not ban them, thus pushing them further underground where there is ZERO regulation, but they need to ensure that all products offered for sale to the public are tested for pesticide residue (malathion converts to cyanide when burned), and have no thinning agents like Vitamin E Acetate or flavours including diacetyl.

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  3. Jeremy Jacob on

    The problems in the US were specifically from a VItamin E acetate used as an additive. We’ve not seen this additive used in the unregulated medical market in Canada, and this additive will certainly not be used in regulated cannabis vapes. Governments are too quick to make these decisions t0 ban or tax regulated cannabis vapes with as they say, not enough data. They are holding back the regulated industry and propping up the unregulated.

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  4. Jim Summers on

    What exactly is a “vape product”? Cannabis-specific vaporizers like the Volcano, Silver Surfer and Ariser Solo, heat up pure Cannabis buds to produce vapor. I’m not sure why people are using cartridge-based vaporizers with Cannabis when they have no idea what has been added to the cartridges. I hope there is no attempt to ban vaporizers where the “product” being vaporized is simply Cannabis buds.

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