eat it, canada! : infusing the country with contraband

Updated: May 1, 2019

i am a huge fan of gifting grey market edibles at the moment. for both experienced and naive users alike, it is often met with the question, “is this legal?”, to which i respond, “absolutely not!”

technically, the only “edibles” available in canada are not currently legal in any form unless you make them yourself. options range from making your own infused butter in a saucepan or by using tools such as the levo infuser to do it for you. once you have these infused oils, you can purchase a growing number of "do it yourself" kits to make infused edibles at home such as brownies and baking from travis peterson - aka: "@thenomadcook" - or your own fruit gummies from paracanna based out of victoria, bc.

any consumer packaged food item that comes prepared or packaged that has been infused, you can guarantee it is not part of the regulated system. the swath of photos on instagram celebrating gummies and candies and micro-dosed mints and peanut butter cups and caramels and whatever else the imagination of the “nuveau wonka” could manifest are shrouded in a grey cloak of contraband. some might say this makes the entire edibles experience that much more exhilarating and exciting when “breaking the law” apparently means being extremely relevant in many emerging circles of acceptance.

“but they’ll be legal this year, yes?”, to which i respond again, “no! these won’t. edibles will be.”

i’m always impressed with the continuance of this dialogue when spoken in terms of legislation and legalization. i love an engaged recreational consumer. the reason why most of the edibles you see today won’t exist in the approaching legal framework for infused treats are several.

first and foremost, regulation exists to protect our youth from accessing or otherwise consuming anything that might be harmful to their development or that puts them in harms way. kudos to health canada for making this a priority given the fact that pretty much every legitimate study that has been undertaken to identify risk factors relating to youth cannabis consumption points to the signs of “long term, irreparable damage”.

shame on health canada, however, for continuing a dialogue that has only slightly improved from nancy reagan’s manifesto on her “war on drugs”, to which i congratulate drugs for winning. there is a lot of stigmatized language that is being included in legislation and regulation that only serve to mislead or otherwise confuse curious and naive consumers. many of the grey market edibles - although not boasting logos or promotions to appeal to children - inherently induce children by nature of being a gummy treat. the most common shapes being used are “lego blocks”, bears, with the infused-gummy equivalents of fuzzy peaches (“buzzy” peaches), sour soothers, and cherry blasters also making an appearance.

herbivores canada has found a way to replicate many of canada’s most popular chocolate bars that are no doubt delicious and a wonderful addition to any get together, but also present a perceived risk to any household with children.

as a reminder, i am explaining the “why” and not the rationale (or lack thereof) for how regulations for both cannabis flower have been applied and how they are being proposed for edibles (and to a lesser extent, extracts).

second to protecting our youth, there are going to be limitations on the allowable amount of thc infused per edible. health canada has proposed a 10mg maximum dosage for any single edible. in the grey market, you are able to access gummies and candies ranging anywhere from 2mg micro-dosed mints to 800mg rose gummies. this presents a fantastic and in some opinions, an obscene range in thc concentrations for what is presented as a single to possibly double-dosed size. i can’t say i am entirely against imposing a limitation on thc levels in edibles as humans exhibit considerable signs of stupidity when it comes to common sense and self-preservation.

i can be found on my instagram highlights consuming the aforementioned 800mg gummy rose from products by sec, all in one sitting. i’m not bragging about my tolerance levels as there are people that are legitimately medicating and fighting tumour growth progression by consuming far more oral thc that i ever hope to have to. no doubt, i was sideways that night but i enter into this and every contract i make with edibles having read the terms and conditions and these expressly read, “you are not going to die”. cannabis will not kill you - at least not with what we have available to us today. inexperienced and naive users (or just idiot ‘cowboys’ wanting to impress their buddies) will be tying up our emergency rooms treating our interns like they’re shaman or spirit guides when these cases of over-consumption should remain in the recovery position on their bathroom floor but never wasting valuable public resources for having “gone green”. low and slow - like you’re braising a roast - is the best advice i can provide next to the aforementioned affirmation that you will survive.

you now understand why there is a growing marketplace for contraband edibles. there is a significant cohort of consumers that do not have children (and many that do) that want a more unique and playful experience, especially in the realm of recreational use. no one wants to have to pass around a bottle of tincture or oil and have their guests use a medicinal dropper to consume oral thc (and if your host is a turkey, cbd). the legislation of edibles will allow for more individualized vehicles of consumption that feel far less therapeutic and create a very social atmosphere. just how ‘social’ regulated edibles will feel is yet to be determined, however, it is safe to say that many of the existing brands in the grey market will continue to thrive as they provide the consumer with the experience they desire.

herbivores edibles out of british columbia fly pretty close to the sun with their selection of infused treats, and all i can say is that everyone loves a rebel. their infused menu mimics that of the treats found in any confectionary and candy aisle. enjoy fuzzy peaches? how about a 'buzzy peach' instead? feeling like a uniquely canadian chocolate bar and feel like reaching for a coffee crisp? why not try the infused version instead. twix bars? check! ding dongs? they got 'em. twinkies? make that a 'twonkie' instead. cherry blasters, sour soothers, cola bottles, a wunderbar or 'ponderbar', and maybe a 'sneakers' bar to really satisfy. after my recent blog about uniquely canadian treats, herbivores has become a favourite when it comes to both infused treats and uniquely canadian treats, doubling up on what makes them uniquely canadian!

baked edibles is an infused baking and confectionary producer and distributor on vancouver island, british columbia. they have exceptional branding, a playful approach to engaging edibles, as well as the strongest effects of any edible available. this might be debatable as i subscribe to the theory that all cannabis and cannabis infusions work differently on and for different people. however, i have had consistent feedback from consumers new and old that baked edibles is where you go to get a proper punch in the face. not for the light of heart but you won’t have a heart attack when you see their reasonably priced menu. and if you're just looking for a little slap and not a concussion-driving punch between the eyes, try micro-dosing with their enchantmints at two milligrams per mint. otherwise, go hard or go home with their hazelnut crunch, dark & ginger, or red-line with the mile-high mint.

want something less playful and more sophisticated? enter ‘dank d'lights’, the customizable ten pack of high-end truffles ranging anywhere from 5mg per piece and upwards of 50mg/piece. these are quite popular for celebrating the important milestones or events such as anniversaries, graduations, birthdays. unless you’re deep into a six figure income, i doubt you will be relying on dank d'lights for daily dosing however it might be something you want to budget for. for reference, it is a $60 box containing 100mg of thc, and although expensive, it is truly a next-level experience from packaging to packing that punch.

e/p infusions is a matcha made in heaven with their exquisite attention to detail and unique, japanese artisan-paper-wrapped bars ranging from 120mg thc (with 12mg cbd) to 600mg thc with all options defining sexy and sophistication for infused edibles.

my current favourite of all edibles available in canada are also the most exclusive and second most expensive when comparing your “$ to thc” concentration in the chocolate bar realm. and i could care less. the level of sophistication and attention to detail that has gone into the curation of the collection with quebec’s "ep infusions" is untouchable. every bar is hand-wrapped in artisan japanese paper and are labeled according to anticipated regulations. these chocolates range from $30 to $35 per bar and are worth every penny. it doesn’t price most consumers out of the market when looking for a boutique infused chocolate bar that is still the only one of it’s kind. i have heard ep infusions likened to defonce out of california yet i would dare to say that ep infusions is still ‘next level’ by comparison to anything in the sophisticated cannabis space.

in light of the expectations being set in the grey market, it will be interesting to see how legislation compares. if anything like their roll-out of flower and oils, it will be challenging for the regulated marketplace to keep pace with a market providing people with the packaged goods they demand at prices they feel are reasonable.

if you’re in vancouver on may 16/17, check out the legalized summit for some of the grey market brands that currently operate in canada and many that are pursuing micro-processing licenses in the second-phase rollout expected to go into effect on october 17, 2019 - one year after cannabis was first legalized in canada.

for regular musings and to stay up to date with a debatably relevant information relating to navigating life in the cannabis space, be sure to subscribe to this blog, my vlog on youtube, “the cobb & unity” podcast, and the @matchstickmarijuana instagram account.

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