One year since the Cannabis Act of Canada came into effect, the legalities of cannabis products are still under development — and Windsor police want the public to get educated.
On Thursday, cannabis edibles, cannabis extracts, and cannabis topicals officially became lawful for production and sale in Canada.
Windsor police prepared for the occasion with a reminder to cannabis consumers to “educate themselves to lower the risk of harm and stay within the legal rules for possession, purchase, and use.”
Police took particular care to remind drivers of the serious criminal nature of impaired operation of a motor vehicle.
“We have the tools and abilities to detect impairment by drug,” Windsor police warned. “If you choose to consume cannabis in any form, please educate yourself on the impairment qualities, and never drive impaired.”
But local cannabis advocate Jon Liedtke says drivers aren’t the only ones who need to be careful about impairment: The effects of cannabis edibles can be more dramatic for consumers, due to the way the psychoactive ingredient — THC — enters the bloodstream through the digestive system.
“There is a large gap between the effects of just inhaling cannabis and (the effects of) eating it,” Liedtke said. “It becomes a different product … and everyone has a different threshold.”
Although often potent, cannabis edibles also tend to be slower-acting than other cannabis products, leading inexperienced consumers to over-ingest.
“There will be a strong learning curve for those who have not already consumed cannabis edibles,” Liedtke said. “The old adage is: ‘Go low, and go slow.’”
Liedtke said he witnessed this learning curve first-hand as a co-owner of Higher Limits — the now-defunct cannabis vape lounge in downtown Windsor. He saw experienced medical cannabis smokers try cannabis edibles for the first time — and the effects were obvious.
“This is one of the reasons we advocated for safe, regulated consumption spaces,” Liedtke explained.
There are also complexities concerning legality. Windsor police note that although cannabis edibles, extracts, and topicals are now lawful in Ontario for those 19 years of age and older, the only way to purchase them is through licensed retailers or the online Ontario Cannabis Store.
However, such products are not currently in the Ontario Cannabis Store’s available catalog. It’s anticipated that the items will be introduced for sale gradually, starting no earlier than mid-December.
Liedtke pointed out that while cannabis edibles might not be on the official market right now, that’s not stopping adults from making their own edibles for personal consumption — using legally-purchased cannabis.
“It should be noted that if someone is making edible themselves at home using their own cannabis, that would be legal,” Liedtke said.
“As long as they’re not selling it to anyone you can make your own cannabis edibles at home whether it be an extract, a topical or edibles themselves, you can’t sell it. You can share it socially with friends but it’s probably best not to in these interim days where there’s still a lot of confusion.”
Despite such complications, Liedtke still feels the developing cannabis market and the one-year anniversary of the Cannabis Act are reasons to celebrate.
“We’re going from something that was entirely unregulated except for the criminal system to now having full inclusivity,” he said.
“Any step forward from prohibition was the biggest step forward, having all these new products come on the market is a huge step forward, the fact that research is being conducted on cannabis, whether it be in partnership with licensed producers and private companies, or universities and colleges, that is a big step forward.
“I know myself and a lot of people in the industry are championing how far we’ve actually gone in just one year.”