Legal Edibles and Drinks Can't Compete with Black Market in Canada, Warns Industry Association

A group of ten alcohol and cannabis companies have joined forces to pressure the Canadian government into loosening regulations around marijuana edibles and infused beverages, which are expected to hit the legal market this fall

The ten companies, which are calling themselves the Cannabis Beverage Producers Alliance (CBPA), claim that the proposed regulations for cannabis-infused food and drinks will prevent producers from effectively marketing their products.

For instance, if you make a cannabis-infused IPA or a marijuana rye whiskey, you won't actually be able to call it that under the government's regulations.

"We make a Cabernet Sauvignon that will be infused with cannabis. But if I can't use Cabernet Sauvignon, how can I describe the product?" Terrence Donnelly - CEO of Hill Street Beverage Company and co-founder of the alliance - told CBC.

"I'm going to have to call it a fermented, aged liquid extracted from red-skinned grapes from Niagara." 

That's not exactly catchy. In fact, it kinda sounds like someone is trying to trick you into thinking something is wine when it's actually vodka mixed with red food dye. And that is especially concerning for Donnelly, who worries that the preposterous names of infused drinks will make people think the products are illicit.

"We need to be able to create brands that will convince consumers not to purchase from the black [market]. The more a product looks like a black market product, the harder it is to differentiate from the black market," said Donnelly.

While selling products will be difficult for some CBPA members, others are struggling just to make cannabis-infused foods. According to the draft regulations, cannabis products must be manufactured in separate facilities from non-cannabis products. So one factory can't make regular ginger snaps as well as cannabis-infused cookies. That measure is in place to ensure that an infused cookie or gummy doesn't wind up in a kid's treat bag, but Donnelly insists that current government guidelines for food production make that outcome unlikely anyway.

"It's a legitimate concern. However, the Canadian Safe Food Act renders [cross-contamination] literally impossible."

The CBPA is just the latest group to criticize the Canadian government's draft regulations for cannabis edibles. The feds have already drawn criticism from snack makers claiming they do not sufficiently allow for prospective cannabis edibles to be taste-tested before hitting shelves. Of course, the regs haven't been finalized yet, so there's a chance that they could be revised in a more industry-friendly manner. But if things don't change, it looks like cannabis consumers could be stuck with products that taste terrible and have labels that sound like shitty Google translations.

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