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Canada will soon legalize edibles—and the market is enormous

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The year-long wait to legalize edibles is much like edibles themselves: it takes a bit more time to kick in, the effects last a little longer and the experience is not quite the same as smoking flower. After all, when smokable buds and oils arrived for legal sale on Oct. 17, the pot-infused foods—like cookies, brownies and gummis—that took up a large chunk of the black market remained illegal. But they’re coming. And when this next phase of cannabis legalization takes effect in October 2019, it will usher in a plethora of new rules and regulations, while signalling yet another psychedelic shift in Canadian society.

“It’s going to be very complex,” says Jo Vos, managing director of Leafly Canada, a cannabis information company that keeps a close eye on Canadian legislation, acknowledging that “it was a smart approach” on the federal government’s part to hold back edibles.

Legalizing a new product for Canadians to consume, Vos notes, means that Canada will likely have to make amendments to several other pieces of legislation, including the Food and Drugs Act, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Cannabis Act itself. However, lifting the ban on edibles in 2019 doesn’t just mean having more marijuana-filled pastries. Vos expects the law’s passage to open up a vast new market filled with everything from cannabis creams and gels to transdermal patches and ingestible capsules.

READ MORE: With its patchwork of half-baked, absurd laws, Canada isn’t ready for legal weed

One of the biggest questions heading into next year will inevitably be the amount of THC—pot’s psychoactive ingredient—allowed in each product. When legal marijuana arrived in Colorado in 2014, there were few regulations; that year, hospitals responded to an alarming number of high, underage children. These days, packaged edibles within the state must come in servings of 10 milligrams (an amount that’s generally considered a low-level dose) or less. In a statement to Maclean’s, Health Canada wouldn’t touch on the government’s dosing plans, saying that edibles would have “stringent regulatory standards, and be produced under sanitary conditions in facilities that meet specific physical security requirements.” But Tammy Jarbeau, a Health Canada spokesperson, noted that there are plans to look at the “specific health and safety risks posed by these novel products,” like their appeal to children, issues of overconsumption and “contaminated or food-borne illnesses.”

Yannick Craigwell, owner and operator of Treats and Treats in Vancouver, a company that sells baked goods infused with cannabis online (something that runs afoul of the law but is tolerated in Vancouver), is watching the second stage of legalization closely. Many of his treats carry anywhere from 90 to 175 milligrams of THC (one could easily find a cookie in Vancouver with close to 300 milligrams, he says), and he hopes to open a bakery the day the law gets passed. Craigwell’s biggest concern is packaging, fearing that the rules could affect a company’s ability to personalize its branding. “This is what gives us our chance to stand out,” he says. “If small businesses are told to put things in carbon-copy boxes that don’t say anything about the vendor, then it lends to the bigger corporations.” He points to the example set by Colorado, where producers are prevented from making edibles that resemble animals, fruits or people in an effort to make them less enticing to children.

RELATED: What’s the difference between smoking and edibles?

Craigwell has been baking sweets since he was a kid—growing up, his mother refused to buy him cookies, so he was forced to concoct recipes himself. He began experimenting with cannabis a year after he launched his business in 2014. For all the debate about keeping edibles away from children, Craigwell believes those concerns shouldn’t dictate policy. “It’s up to the parent to be a good parent,” he says, and notes the dilemma is akin to kids eating Tide Pods on the internet: “That doesn’t mean we can’t do laundry.”

Vos concurs, adding that avoiding the cannabis industry and “working in silence” would be the biggest mistake the government could make going into 2019. As it stands now, only manufacturers with a licence from Health Canada would be allowed to make and bake edibles. To legally sell these products, retailers will need permission from their province.

Regardless of what happens, there is little doubt that the market for edibles will be enormous. A 2018 survey from Deloitte suggested that six out of 10 Canadian customers would choose pot edibles over smokables.

Craigwell has noticed a spike in sales since the first legalization day, and Vos has seen the number of edibles-related searches among Canadians soar since October. The country is curious, but people also “want to consume discreetly, in a way that is maybe elegant and a bit more refined than rolling and smoking a joint,” she says, and notes that women may be more drawn to edibles. What should first-timers expect when they take home a pot-laced brownie next October? Start with a nibble and proceed slowly, Vos advises. Then, when you’re ready, “continue your journey from there.”

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Ottawa unveils funding for poultry and egg farmers hurt by free-trade deals

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Canadian egg and poultry farmers who’ve lost domestic market share due to two recent free-trade agreements will soon have access to $691 million in federal cash, Canada’s agriculture minister announced Saturday.

Marie-Claude Bibeau shared details of the long-awaited funds in a virtual news conference.

“Today we position our young farmers for growth and success tomorrow,” she said.

The money follows a previously announced $1.75 billion for the dairy sector linked to free-trade deals with Europe and countries on the Pacific Rim, one that came into effect in 2017 and the other in 2018.

The dairy sector funds were to flow over eight years, and the first $345 million payment was sent out last year.

But on Saturday, Bibeau announced a schedule for the remaining payments that will see the money flow over three years — beginning with $468 million in 2020-21, $469 million in 2021-22 and $468 million in 2022-23.

Bibeau said the most recently announced funds for dairy farmers amount to an average farm of 80 cows receiving a direct payment of $38,000 in the first year.

Payments based on formulas

David Wiens, vice-president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, said the money will help farms make investments for the future.

“I think particularly for the younger farmers who have really struggled since these agreements have been ratified, they can actually now see opportunities, how they can continue to make those investments on the farm so that they can continue on,” he said.

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Employee of Ottawa Metro store tests positive for COVID-19

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Metro says an employee of its grocery store on Beechwood Avenue in Ottawa has tested positive for COVID-19.

The company says the employee’s positive test result was reported on Nov. 25. The employee had last been at work at the Metro at 50 Beechwood Ave. on Nov. 19.

Earlier this month, Metro reported several cases of COVID-19 at its warehouse on Old Innes Road.

Positive test results were reported on Nov. 2, Nov. 6, Nov. 11, and Nov. 19. The first two employees worked at the produce warehouse at 1184 Old Innes Rd. The other two worked at the distribution centre at the same address.

Metro lists cases of COVID-19 in employees of its stores and warehouses on its website

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Tinseltown: Where 50-year-old ‘tough guys’ become youngsters again

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Audy Czigler wears glitter like a Pennsylvania miner wears coal dust. It’s on his face and hands, in his hair and on his clothing. It’s an occupational hazard that he says he just can’t get rid of.

And when he’s sifting through job applications from people wanting to work at his Tinseltown Christmas Emporium on Somerset Street W. in Hintonburg, the glitter is a consideration. For he’s not looking for people who can simply endure it; no, he’s screening for people who revel and carouse in glitter, for those for whom the 10,000th playing of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is as refreshing as the first, for those who believe that the 12 days of Christmas last 365 days a year. The believers.

Sure, he has heard the voices of skeptical passersby on the sidewalk outside his shop, especially in the summer months when visions of sugarplums have receded from many people’s minds.

“I hear them out there a few times a day,” he says, “wondering how a Christmas store can possibly survive year-round.

“I want to go out and tell them,” he adds, but his voice trails off as a customer approaches and asks about an ornament she saw there recently, of a red cardinal in a white heart. Where is it?

There’s scant room for sidewalk skeptics now, crowded out by the dozens of shoppers who, since October, have regularly lined up outside the store, patiently biding their time (and flocks) as pandemic-induced regulations limit the shop to 18 customers at a time.

Once inside, visitors will be forgiven for not first noticing the glitter, or even the rendition of Baby, It’s Cold Outside playing on the speakers. For there’s no specific “first thing” you notice. The first thing you notice is EVERYTHING — a floor-to-ceiling cornucopia of festivity, reminiscent perhaps of how the blind man in the Gospel of John may have felt when Jesus rubbed spit and mud in his eyes and gave him sight for the first time.

https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/tinseltown-where-50-year-old-tough-guys-become-youngsters-again

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