‘Several’ companies targeted in cannabis edibles crackdown, Health Canada says

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Canada’s top health regulator said it is cracking down on “several” cannabis companies it alleges are selling “erroneously” classified products that far exceed the 10-milligram THC limit governing individual packages of edibles.

In a lengthy email response to MJBizDaily queries, Health Canada said it is working with “several” companies to resolve issues related to a lack of compliance with the country’s cannabis regulations.

MJBizDaily reported Wednesday that producers of some lozenges and chewable extracts – whose packages are classified as extracts and contain more than 100 milligrams of THC – were recently handed a “stop sale” request by the federal regulator.

Health Canada said some of those products should be classified as “edibles” and thus should not exceed 10 milligrams of THC per package.

The government’s move appears to be an attempt to close a loophole some cannabis producers have been using to sell quasi-edibles as extracts.

The loophole has allowed these producers to sell packages containing significantly more than the 10 milligrams of THC allowed for packages of edibles.

Under Canadian cannabis regulations, products classified as an extract are capped at 1,000 milligrams of THC per package – or 100 times the allowable THC limit governing packages of edibles.

“Health Canada has identified edible cannabis products erroneously being classified and marketed as cannabis extract products,” the public health agency said in the email.

“These noncompliant products do not meet the controls in the Cannabis Act and Cannabis Regulations which serve to mitigate against public health and public safety risks associated with edible cannabis.”

The regulator declined to state exactly which products were affected, nor would it share the specific number of companies involved in the crackdown.

The letters sent by the Canadian government to several license holders requests they voluntarily stop selling the products.

MJBizDaily asked Health Canada what action it could take if they were to refuse.

“Health Canada’s preference is for regulated parties to voluntarily undertake actions to come into compliance,” the regulator said.

“These include measures ranging from compliance promotion and awareness, which are intended to educate and prevent non-compliance, up to measures intended to correct non-compliance or address a public health or safety risk, such as the issuance of a warning letter, suspension or cancellation of a federal license, the issuance of a ministerial order, or the issuance of administrative monetary penalties.”

Health Canada declined to answer why it didn’t address the classification issue when the respective products were going through the mandatory Notice of New Cannabis Product (NNCP) process, which requires licensed producers to notify Health Canada months in advance of new products.

The noncompliance letters asking companies to stop selling the targeted products were sent at the beginning of January.

One industry source, who requested anonymity to safeguard relations with regulators, said a key question looms for Canada’s provincial wholesalers.

“The big question now is what are the provincial boards going to do?” the source asked.

MJBizDaily sent queries to some provincial wholesalers, asking whether they had been given any guidance for the products in question.

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB), which manages wholesale in British Columbia, said it had not received any notification.

“LDB has not received notification from Health Canada regarding changes to the classification of ingestible cannabis extracts,” a spokesperson said via email.

“(The LDB) is committed to complying with all regulations set out by Health Canada and will adhere to any changes to regulations that may occur.”

Matt Lamers can be reached at matt.lamers@mjbizdaily.com.