Indiva is a brandhouse for multiple edible companies including Pearls and Pips by grön, Wana Sour Gummies and Bhang that has sold over 15 million individual units since cannabis edibles were legalised, October 17, 2019. During that time, there’s not been one child health complaint lodged with Health Canada against the company. This is because, says Niel Marotta, the Indiva CEO, his edible packages are childproof, resealable and branded clearly, in compliance with the Health Canada regulations.
In the unregulated illicit market, where there are no potency limits and no restrictions on branding, unintended youth poisonings have increased since cannabis legalization. The illicit market still sells two-thirds of all edibles in Canada and Marotta says you can draw a direct parallel between children having ill effects from illegal edibles to the potency limits on the legal market: if the legal licensed producers were able to create products that competed with the potency of the illegal stuff, that illegal market would cease to exist.
Increased dosage to at least 100mg will triple the legal edible category and stamp out the illicit market and provide a safe, legal alternative—overnight.
“The current cap on edibles is driving people back to the illicit market for unsafe products with pesticide wrapped in non-child resistant packaging that looks like candy so kids are getting into it—the edibles potency issue is an issue of public safety,” Marotta told KIND magazine during an interview at the Benzinga Capital Cannabis Conference, where Marotta gave an industry-wide talk on this very issue. “We need at least 100mg of THC per pack to help retailers, help licensed producers and help grow the market overall by 10%, like we’ve seen in American states like California and Colorado. Increased dosage will triple the legal edible category, stamp out the illicit market and provide a safe, legal alternative—overnight.”
The Ontario Cannabis Store recently tested edibles on the illegal market and found that 80% of the products had their dosage mislabelled. (Some products had 50-times less THC than advertised). According to Marotta, it’s precise dosing combined with superior flavour and proper packaging that makes the legal market better than illicit counterfeit goods.
It’s irresponsible if we don’t raise the legal edible potency limits in the next twelve months.
Additionally, the price of cannabis has dropped so low that the legal edible producers will not have to boost their cost to increase the amount of cannabis used in each product. Marotta says that, while his company enjoyed 40% Q4 market share, the legal market is still hamstrung by faulty reasoning. Adults should be treated like adults, says Marotta, and Jack Daniel’s doesn’t come in a childproof case. All the 10mg THC limit does to the legal market is pave the way for bad products to be unleashed in Canadian homes.
“You can draw a straight line from the potency limits to the lack of category size and the edible category not reaching its potential, and what’s the unintended consequence? When people go back to illicit market they’re buying candy sprayed with distillate and selling it on illicit market at 100mg, 500mg or 1,000mg at a time,” Marotta says, “and it’s those products that find a way into homes and kids get their hands on it because it looks like candy and poisonings have gone up—but not because of legal edibles.”
Health Canada is listening to the legal industry and the Cannabis Act, which defined the terms of ending cannabis prohibition, is currently under review. Recently, the limits on cannabis beverages were altered, allowing consumers to purchase more drinks at a time to make a better value proposition for legal consumers. In the edible market, Marotta hopes the same will happen soon—“we needed this yesterday, but I’ll tolerate it within the next twelve months”—because it will benefit retailers with increased sales, benefit the provinces with increased taxes, benefit the consumer with superior product and, most importantly, benefit parents with a safer, trustworthy Health Canada-approved edible.
“We need to increase dosage limits in the legal market to at least 100mg of THC and then people will stop buying unsafe products and stop having bad results where unfortunate things happen,” says Marotta, “no one wants to see three years into cannabis legalization kids end up in the ER.”
To read more about the fight to increase the dosage limit of the legal medical market, please see kindmagazine.ca.