Planning for legal edibles a challenge says P.E.I. Cannabis

Six months before cannabis edibles hit store shelves across the country, the government corporation that runs P.E.I.'s pot shops says there are still a lot of questions making planning a challenge.

New cannabis products — like edibles, beverages, topicals and extracts — will be for sale legally in Canada in mid-December, with regulations on packaging designed to limit appeal and reduce the risk of over-consumption.

Experiment with this, but don't go overboard. — Zach Currie

P.E.I. Cannabis director of operations Zach Currie said while he anticipates legal edibles will boost business stores and staff will need to be ready for, it's impossible to know how high demand will be. 

"I think the biggest challenge is just understanding what's even going to be available and what will be available for us to purchase," Currie said. 

The federal government has already warned Canadians should expect a small initial supply of cannabis edibles when they become legal, adding that the products will not include items that might appeal to children. 

'Finite amount of space'

Currie said all of P.E.I. Cannabis's current suppliers and other companies like Charlottetown-based Dosecann have indicated they are developing edibles and topicals to be ready for legalization.  

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While rules on edibles take effect in mid-October, suppliers will have to wait out Health Canada's 60-day review period before they can send products to Canadian stores. 

Currie said once the new products are available the challenge will be figuring out what to purchase and in what quantities, and how to best clear space in the corporation's warehouse. 

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"To take on new formats, some may need to go." 

"We only have a finite amount of space in our existing distribution centre," he said. "What is going to happen with existing formats like dried flower for instance? How much, as part of the pie, is that slice going to change?"

'Prevent an unpleasant experience'

Currie said to help inform its decisions the corporation has been studying sales figures in other places that have legalized cannabis edibles.

Brennan Linsley/Associated Press

He said those jurisdictions have also proven the need to properly educate staff and the public about the potential dangers of edibles.

"We need to really get that message out there to start low, go slow. You know experiment with this, but don't go overboard," said Currie. 

"We saw some of the adverse effects of that in some of the U.S. jurisdictions when they went live, and we'll be doing everything we can to to build on our social responsibility strategy ... so that folks know exactly how they can prevent an unpleasant experience with the products they purchase from our stores."

Steve Bruce/CBC

Currie said staff will be getting extra training before edibles hit shelves in December, adding he is confident there are enough full-time staff and casual workers for the corporation to handle any potential initial rush. 

Depending on the demand for the new products long-term, he said there may be the need to eventually hire and train more staff. 

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