Canadian government officials have said they intend to eventually allow edibles, but for now will only allow the smokable products
The public health official in charge of Colorado’s marijuana health monitoring says it makes sense for Canada to take its time on legalizing edible pot products — despite the fact his own government legalized it immediately.
Canadian government officials have said they intend to eventually allow edibles (such as marijuana brownies or cookies), but for now will only allow the smokable products.
Speaking Friday morning at the House of Commons health committee that’s holding hearings on the marijuana bill, Colorado’s Daniel Vigil said it’s probably too fast to develop regulations around edible products before the July 1, 2018 legalization deadline.
“I think ultimately they should be included, but it’s very important to get it right,” he said. “If that takes some time and some learning from the smoked market, then I would be in agreement with that.”
Though he acknowledged the benefit of getting edibles regulated and out of the black market, and said Canada could also adopt very strict regulations around edibles and then loosen them over time, he said ultimately the best approach is probably to wait.
“I guess I would err on the side of giving it more time to not only work on the legislation, but also for other jurisdictions like Colorado and the other states in the United States that have legalized to continue to learn more.”
Colorado voters legalized marijuana in a ballot passed in November 2012, and sales — including edibles — started just over a year later in January 2014.
In one infamous incident, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd travelled to Colorado after legalization and wrote about how she ate part of a weed-infused chocolate bar, and then kept eating when she didn’t feel any immediate effects. Before long, she was “panting and paranoid” and “curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours.” (Not understanding the time-delayed effect of edibles, it turned out she’d eaten way more chocolate than recommended.)
Vigil said the fact edibles don’t take effect as fast as smoked products is one of the Colorado government’s concerns.
“There is one concern that I think is a bit greater with edibles, and that is driving, and the fact that with an inhaled product you can quickly recognize what the effects are and give yourself time to overcome those effects or to get back to a safe place to be driving. But with edibles it’s possible that you would not realize that you haven’t felt the full effects and potentially get behind the wheel.”
The challenge is in detecting edible cannabis in a driver who's impaired versus not Ryan Vandrey, a Johns Hopkins University professor
Another expert witness appearing at the committee on Friday, however, disagreed and said edibles should be legalized immediately.
“I think that’s the greater public good, rather than just allowing one version and then continuing to have black market product available that you don’t know what’s in it,” said Ryan Vandrey, a Johns Hopkins University professor who has extensively studied the effects of marijuana.
He said his lab studies have shown that whether it’s edibles or smoked products, “the magnitude of drug effects and the type of effects are identical.”
“It’s really just the differences in the time course of the effects,” he said. “I would disagree in the argument that you can’t perceive the intoxication when you eat it. People are very aware that they’re intoxicated. The challenge is in detecting edible cannabis in a driver who’s impaired versus not, but that’s a problem across the board independent of route of administration, but is a little bit different in edibles in that you get lower blood concentrations.”
The other witness speaking to the committee about edibles was Dana Larsen, a longtime marijuana legalization activist who runs a dispensary in Vancouver. He did not hesitate when asked whether edibles should be available immediately.
“I support adding edibles, and also other extracts as well: hashish, and all those kinds of things, both smokable and edible. That’s got to be part of legalization…This ‘go-slow’ thing, we’ve been going slow since 1971. It’s time to act, and not go slow.”
Originally published on Nationalpost.com