With containment, we are prepared to do anything to keep us occupied. We cook, we garden and, of course, we treat ourselves to a small glass of our favorite drink, just to pass the time.
Cannabis has also been part of our lives since 2018, and edibles made from cannabis appeared in 2019.
According to Statistics Canada, cannabis sales across the country reached $ 2.03 billion from January to October 2020, and were on track to total $ 2.61 billion at the end of December. They have increased in nine of those ten months, despite supply chain issues and slower distribution to stores due to the pandemic.
After Ontario, Quebec recorded the second largest monthly increase in sales with 6.7%, reaching $ 48 million in October. With 53 stores for a population of 8.5 million, the results aren’t that bad.
Few legal products
Of course, the majority of cannabis users inhale it. But since the human body was never designed to inhale drugs, some are turning to edibles. However, Health Canada’s very severe restrictions prevent a company from manufacturing edibles without having access to a licensed factory that is completely physically separated from other products.
The prices are also extremely high, and the black market has adapted very quickly. Moreover, some reports indicate that it still occupies between 75% and 80% of the Canadian market. It is enormous.
It is therefore very difficult to obtain legal edible products on the Canadian market at present. Faced with a missing offer, at least a legal offer, Quebeckers and Canadians seem to have set to work. According to a recent poll conducted by Dalhousie University, 11.2% of Canadians have concocted edibles made from cannabis since the start of the pandemic. Cannabis sales are on the rise, but that’s possibly because many are experimenting at home: cookies, muffins, oils, spices, and more. The pandemic often keeps us inside in our kitchen, and cooking with all kinds of ingredients leads many people to make discoveries, and above all, to try new mixtures.
These domestic experiments are carried out without supervision. To cook with cannabis, you need to know the properties of this plant, which has been illegal for years. It contains a variety of cannabinoids whose virtues vary enormously. Unless you really know how to use cannabis in the kitchen, it’s much safer to buy edibles, but the Trudeau government decided otherwise.
Rules far too strict
At the time of legalization, the federal government feared the excesses, social risks and accidents associated with legal cannabis use. The last thing we wanted was to see a 5 year old in the hospital after having swallowed a cannabis infused chocolate bar. This is quite normal, but the regulations have gone too far.
The strict rules, which constitute real obstacles for the agri-food industry, prevent companies from offering quality and safe products to consumers who are looking for some kind of escape in these times of major containment.
And CBD, an effective cannabinoid for treating anxiety and pain without psychoactive effects, might also help. But for now, it’s the consumers, the cooks of the pot.
Hopefully there won’t be too many accidents since places are scarce in emergencies these days.
- Dr Sylvain Charlebois is an economist and professor in the Faculty of Agriculture and the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.