Cannabis derivatives reach the market in Québec: Regional directors of public health want to better protect young people
With the imminent arrival of various cannabis derivatives on the market—edibles, for example—Québec’s regional directors of public health are asking the Government of Québec to regulate the offer of these products to better protect the health of the population, especially that of young people.
The directors have submitted a brief to the Government of Québec for its consultation on the Projet de règlement déterminant d’autres catégories de cannabis qui peuvent être vendues par la Société québécoise du cannabis et certaines normes relatives à la composition et aux caractéristiques du cannabis.
On October 17, 2019, the sale of edible cannabis products, cannabis extracts (cannabis concentrates) and cannabis topicals (cremes, lotions) will be legal in Canada. In a context where those products will be available, the regional directors consider that regulations put forward by the provincial government will address various public health issues. In their brief, the directors make additional recommendations to prevent initiation of cannabis use by adolescents and young adults and limit health risks among the population.
The directors’ recommendations
The directors suggest adding the following measures to the regulation, to ensure better control over these new products and to protect young people:
- Use specific criteria to define edible products considered as appealing to minors so as to ban their sales; these include, for example, edibles in the shape of fruit, humans or animals, cartoon characters, or brightly coloured products.
- Prohibit the sale of sugary drinks containing cannabis, including natural or sweetened juices, and carbonated drinks.
To make sure the regulation is easily interpreted, the directors recommend the following:
- Identify all authorized products and ban all others to limit the number and variety of products available on the market.
- Identify a decisional body at the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux to oversee authorization of new products.
To ensure consumers are well informed, the directors also emphasize that it is important to add a recommendation to existing warnings on product labels, cautioning not to combine cannabis and alcohol, as well as information about who to contact in case of intoxication.
Health protection measures already included in the regulation
The directors believe that by diversifying its products, the industry attracts new consumers and, as a result, promotes cannabis use. The regulation currently under study prohibits certain categories of edibles and all topicals (skin cremes, etc.), thus limiting diversification.
The federal government authorizes a limit of 10 mg of THC per unit for edible cannabis, including beverages. The directors welcome Québec’s proposal to reduce the limit to a maximum of 5 mg of THC per unit. With higher THC levels, the effects of edible cannabis are less predictable and more likely to increase the risks of intoxication. Also in the regulation, maximum THC concentrations are set at 30% for cannabis extracts, which could help reduce the risks of addiction and psychosis.
Statistics on Quebecers’ methods of consumption
In 2018, 96% of cannabis users in Québec reported having smoked it at least once in the past year, 27% ingested it (36% of 15 to 24-year-olds), 22% vapourized or vaped it, and 4% drunk it.
Québec’s regional directors of public health
Québec’s regional directors of public health have a responsibility to prevent disease, and monitor, protect and promote public health. More specifically, and as per the Public Health Act, they have a mandate to “promote health and the adoption of public social policies capable of fostering the enhancement of the health and welfare of the population among the various resources whose decisions or actions may have an impact on the health of the general population or of certain groups.”
To access the brief (PDF in french)