No 6-pack for you: Cannabis beverage seller says regulations choking industry


A vendor in eastern Ontario says the summer of 2021 could be the first big season of cannabis-infused beverages, if people could only grab six-packs from stores.

Brad Stewart, co-founder of Molecule, a business based in Lansdowne, Ont., says the way Health Canada calculates the amount of marijuana in an infused drink has left people in the industry scratching their heads.

Using Health Canada’s calculations, a 355-milliliter drink is considered to be equivalent to slightly more than five grams of cannabis, even though a drink can contain up to 10 milligrams of THC, the psychoactive chemical in the marijuana plant.

And because Canadians can also only take 30 grams of cannabis out of a store, it’s illegal to sell more than five 350-milliliter drinks at a time — frustratingly shy, Stewart said, of the six-packs many consumers are accustomed to buying. Huh.

“The [regulations] Almost feels like a mistake,” he said.

“For someone exclusively focused only on cannabis drinks, this is particularly challenging.”

Stewart says Health Canada’s calculations are unfair because they only take into account the total volume of a drink, regardless of how much THC was used in its production.

The Cannabis Council of Canada, which has launched a campaign against the regulations, claims that the role weighting in Health Canada’s measurement has created an imbalanced market.

It said that, based on those measurements, consumers could only buy five cannabis-infused drinks — but they could walk out of a store with 100 bottles of cannabis oil spray.

Rules are arbitrary, say lawyer

Trina Fraser, a partner with Ottawa-based law firm Brazzo Sellar, which specializes in cannabis law, says Health Canada has followed the lead of some US states when drafting the rules.

“I think there are a lot of people in the industry who don’t understand the rationale for that policy decision,” she said.

“Cannabis-infused beverage manufacturers are lobbying the government to change these same ratios because they are again arbitrary.”

Health Canada says it is seeking input about limits on cannabis beverages – whether they should be increased, by how much, and whether public health and public safety evidence would support such a change.

“Health Canada is now actively considering input received from a wide range of stakeholders and individuals during these consultations,” a spokesperson told the news by email.

Fraser said such barriers are against Health Canada’s stated goal of displacing the illicit market.

“If the concern is about harm and intoxication from cannabis products, it is linked to the amount of THC naturally present,” she said.

“So why isn’t that the driving force behind the limit on how much you can carry in public?”

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