Update: A limited selection of cannabis edibles/drinkables and preloaded cartridge pens will be available on January 6 in Ontario. Our sources say other extracts (like hash, shatter, wax, topicals) won't be available until the end of March or beginning of April.
It's been 1 year since cannabis was legalized in Canada. In the first year we had (very limited) access to cannabis and some extracts/oils/capsules. The media has been misrepresenting the legality of edibles. Cannabis in all of its forms have been legal since last October. Since last July, existing federally regulated processors could apply to Health Canada to make sure they can sell their products, and can advise the department of proposed products as of yesterday. The producers can then make the products available for sale 60 days later. We will start to see extract and edible products hit the shelves in December with a big bulk coming in winter 2020. As we learned with cannabis flower--just because it's made in Canada doesn't mean it will necessarily be available in Ontario. So what's new and coming down the pipe?
Edibles + Drinkables
A lot more than just brownies and cookies, you can expect to see a whole range of edibles. Cannabis is usually extracted with an oil or fat of some kind (coconut and olive oil are popular). At home you would just add dried cannabis to a Magical Butter Maker and you would be left with butter or oil you could add to any recipe. Some people also use distilled cannabis (or just distillate as it's called) because it has minimal taste and the texture of honey and can dissolve easily into anything. Some people just add shatter or other processed hash to olive oil. I once paid $70 for an infused pizza with shatter oil in Vancouver and it was a total rip off. The best edible I have ever had is a Kiva Bar when I was in San Francisco. They weren't just good edibles, they were good chocolate (and trust me, I know my way around chocolate). I have never had a cannabis drinkable I liked or that was effective enough for me so, we'll see how that goes. I know big companies are investing in it hard like Labbatt partnering with Tilray to make a CBD beverage and friends of ours are involved with Hill Street Beverage Company. They aren't allowed to have alcohol in them so it's taking out most of the fun, but I am keeping an open mind.
There are weird limitations on the shapes the candy can be, and the 10 mg. limit per edible/drinkable will be a challenge. It's basically packaged single servings. I understand that it's important to start low and go slow, but I would rather a 100 mg. chocolate bar that can be broken into 10 mg. pieces (I think those Kiva Bars I liked were 150 mg. but each square was marked--and it was really strong). I would rather suggested servings than big brother forcing REQUIRED servings. This is going to result in a lot of unnecessary, expensive packaging that will drive up the individual cost of each edible. Also, everything has to be shelf stable and not require refrigeration (no ice cream I guess). I expect we are going to see a lot of weird preservatives in these sorts of products.
I have noticed a lot of wild claims about mg. quantities on black market products (like 1000 mg. chocolate bar). I would like to see real testing done on those because I don't believe it was measured accurately. How do I feel about edibles? Like that one alcohol you drank too much of at one point, I find edibles are very hit and miss and I only like them if there is no skunky taste. I am fussy. I am eager to see what a legal, regulated edible looks like (because like I said, I LOVED Kiva Bars and can't wait for them to come to Canada).
Concentrate Extracts (Hash)
You may have heard of dabbing before (we'll do a Cannabis 101 article on it soon). Basically it is a concentrated form of cannabis that is super psychoactive. Hash is made knocking trichomes off cannabis plant material in one way or another (and there are lots of ways to make it). Some use a solvent (like butane for BHO wax or shatter) or ice (bubble hash) or pressing in between hot plates like a hair straightener (rosin) or shaking or trimming over a screen (dry sift) even just rubbing it with your hands (finger hash or charras--although we probably won't see a lot of this for sale--it probably doesn't meet health standards).
You may be familiar with a hot knife where you would heat up (and ruin) two butter knives on a hot plate or element stove and press a piece of bubble hash in between. Wax or shatter is basically the same thing differentiated by texture. Wax looks and feels like ear wax and shatter is more like a hard candy. Both have excellent flavour. A dab is a portion of (usually) BHO wax/shatter or rosin that gets vaporized off a titanium or quartz that's been heated with a creme brulee torch. Shatter and wax can also be put into vape pens that have a red hot element, but it cannot be used with a regular dry herb vaporizer. In Amsterdam wax/shatter is considered a hard drug and not available in coffee shops. Speaking of Europeans, in our experience most just smoke hash with tobacco--very few grind and roll pure cannabis like we do in Canada.
I have to admit, I love flavourful concentrates--but there is one rule about hash or any concentrates--good in=good out. Concentrates are near pure extracted trichomes. If you are making hash with shitty quality cannabis, the shittier your hash will be. Not only that it takes a lot of cannabis to make a small amount of hash. A good hash producer can hope for a 25% return on the cannabis they are extracting with, but most are probably getting a 15% return. That means for every 100 grams of hash they are working with they are hoping to get 15-25 grams of hash out of it, which of course makes it seem very expensive on a per gram basis. I would expect concentrates to be between $60-$100+ a gram retail. There is a lot of skepticism about whether quality hash can be produced on a large scale. John Fowler the CEO 7 Acres recently stated this is a corporate mandate so we will see what happens! I will be especially critical of concentrates because it is my preferred method of consumption (followed by joints).
Add to my skepticism, topicals! Topicals are products that are ingested transdermally--like a cream or spray. We have judged a few over the years in cannabis competitions--and it isn't just creams (like Rub A535 or Icy Hot) one year there was a sex lube and another year a sex spray! I refused to spray it on myself (that is a delicate pH balance that I don't want to disturb!) Generally, I have never found topicals to be very effective for me. There are some people who believe they work miracles but I have yet to try one that is effective. In addition to rubs for pain (which isn't really recreational), we can expect to see more "personal" sex oriented products and maybe even some tattoo numbing creams. This is the new product category I am least excited about and expect to be most predatory to consumers. If it were the 90's and we were on Street Cents I would say topicals are fit for the pit.