Health Canada has issued an advisory after confirming several cases of serious harm resulting in hospitalization after children have accidentally eaten illegal edible cannabis products.
The products appeared similar to regular candies or foods and were stored in locations such as the fridge or freezer and without child-resistant packaging.
“Obtaining cannabis from illegal sources can carry potential health risks as the products are not regulated and do not meet the strict safety and quality controls as set out in the Cannabis Act and its Regulations,” Health Canada said in the advisory. “These controls address issues such as the maximum amount of THC, product ingredients, packaging, labelling, production, testing and sale, including appeal to young persons.”
Health Canada said consumers should only purchase cannabis from authorized provincial and territorial retailers, online or in brick-and-mortar stores. The agency said legal cannabis products must be sold in child-resistant and tamper-evident packaging, noting the immediate container must be opaque or translucent. Edible cannabis products may legally contain a maximum of 10 milligrams of THC per package.
Health Canada’s advice to consumers
• If you possess cannabis, store it away from children and youth. Be especially careful with edible cannabis, which can be mistaken for regular food or drink. Consider storing cannabis products in a locked drawer or box and separate from regular food or drinks.
• Always purchase cannabis products from authorized provincial and territorial retailers. Cannabis products purchased outside the legal, regulated supply chain are not subject to any quality control or safety measures.
• If someone is having a serious medical emergency related to a cannabis product, call 911 or contact your regional poison centre. If you have questions or concerns about cannabis and your health, consult your health-care practitioner.
Tips for recognizing legal cannabis
• Cannabis products sold by licensed retailers, containing more than 0.3 per cent THC, are required to have an excise stamp at the point of sale. If a packaged cannabis product does not have an excise stamp at the time of purchase, it is an illegal product.
• Legal and regulated cannabis have a number of control measures in place to minimize harm from cannabis use, including plain packaging and labelling that contains appropriate warning messages and important information about the product (e.g., THC and CBD content).
• Provincially and territorially authorized retailers are the only legal way to purchase cannabis for non-medical purposes in Canada. Each province and territory is responsible for determining how cannabis is distributed and sold within its jurisdiction. Most provinces and territories list the locations where legal cannabis can be purchased online and in brick-and-mortar stores.
• If you purchase edible cannabis, remember that legal edible cannabis products are limited to a maximum of 10 mg THC per package. If the retailer where you are considering making your purchase sells edible cannabis products that contain more than 10 mg of THC per package, the retailer is selling illicit cannabis that is unregulated and untested.