Walk into most any Toronto dispensary and you’ll see a long glass display case full of individually wrapped cookies, brownies, gummies and other sweet snacks. Most of them look like something out of J.K. Rowling’s Honeydukes candy store.
Many patients prefer to ingest cannabis as opposed to smoking for health reasons. But, not surprisingly, this method has its critics, too. At the top of their list is the concern that these "treats" will look appealing to children.
But this week, people are talking about another concern: that there’s maybe not enough THC in these products. The Globe and Mail had a collection of edibles from various Toronto dispensaries tested at a Health Canada-certified lab, and they reported last week that there was significantly less THC in the snacks than claimed. A cake pop, for example, which was purported to have 90 milligrams of THC actually contained only a fifth that amount, and a freezie whose packaging promised 60 mg had less than 20 mg.
Civilized reached out to some dispensaries to see what staff thought about the investigation, and whether they thought it was necessary to test each individual medicated treat.
Todd Douglas runs The Rolling Buds dispensary (which is currently closed due to rumours of further police raids), and he says testing is paramount.
“I think testing does matter, especially when you have a new industry opening up,” Douglas tells us. “You’re going to have a lot of people without edibles experience. In that situation, it’s good to err on that side of caution.”
He stresses that a 50 mg edible could put one person out of commission, whereas another might not even feel high.
“To be honest, I think it’s always important to know what you’re consuming,” he says. “With edibles, it’s tricky because they affect people in so many different ways. To me, strain specificity isn’t as important as knowing if it’s going to be a strong dose or a light dose.”
A staff member at Kensington Market’s Canadian Benevolent Dispensary, who chose to remain anonymous, also said that he advocates for testing. (This person refused to give his name due to fears of being charged. Seven other Toronto dispensaries either declined or refused to return our request for comment.)
If people need edibles for pain management and there’s not as much THC as the packaging claims, they may find themselves still in pain, and also out the cost of the edible.
“It has to be regulated,” the dispensary staffer told us. “People have to know how much THC they’re getting. Some patients really need these edibles.”
Ideally, he says, staff feel that every edible sold, even ones from third party suppliers, should be tested for accuracy and sold with clear and correct labeling.
Douglas agrees. “There needs to be some kind of quality control and testing. I don’t think any dispensary should be selling any edible made by some random person in their basement.” He says food safety standards should apply just as they do for any other food sold in the province.
“We’re talking about stuff that we’re consuming. Even with smoking, I think it’s good to know what kind of fertilizers are being used, whether there’s any mould in the product. It’s going to help everyone if there are standards in this industry.”