Ottawa pot shops gear up for edibles to hit the shelves

Local cannabis stores are expecting edibles like chocolate bars, soft-baked cookies and infused tea to appear on their shelves next week. 

On Friday, the Ontario Cannabis Store unveiled 16 edible products that will be delivered to brick-and-mortar stores and be made available online by Jan. 16. 

Ben Warner, assistant general manager at Fire and Flower in Ottawa, said they've already received many phone calls from excited customers asking when edibles would be available.   

"Obviously people love drinks, they love chocolate, they love candy. And being able to combine cannabis with those creature comforts that we already like is very appealing to a lot of people," Warner said.  

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William Zorn, lead cannabis educator at Fire and Flower, said customers are also concerned about their lung health. 

When people smoke cannabis, they're inhaling things beyond THC, the main compound that produces the high, said Zorn.

But with edibles, consumers know what they're getting, he added.

"No matter what you're breathing in, if it's not oxygen, it's not supposed to be in there," Zorn said. "[Edibles are] keeping their lungs nice and clean."

Quebec restrictions  

While edibles were legalized in Quebec in November 2019, the province raised the legal age to buy and possess cannabis to 21 in the new year — the highest in Canada. 

The province also banned the distribution of certain edibles that could be attractive to people under 21, like chocolates, candies and other sweets. 

That means cannabis users in Gatineau and beyond who have a sweet tooth might have to make a trip to Ottawa's pot shops. 

Warner said one customer drove eight hours to his store on Thursday looking for edibles.

"There are definitely going to be people coming far and wide to check it out," he said.

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Next steps 

In Ontario, each package of cannabis edibles must contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC — enough for a new user but potentially not for a seasoned one, said Trina Fraser, a cannabis lawyer at Brazeau Seller Law.

While the restrictions are based on concerns about over-consumption, Fraser said it likely just means that people will buy more.

"There's a concern that that is kind of an artificial restriction on the amount of THC that can be in a package," she said. 

She said it's important to now collect data and see whether there's room to give licensed producers more latitude in their products — without compromising health and safety. 

Warner said he encourages people to "start low and go slow," when trying edibles.