Cana­di­ans favour mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion, cu­ri­ous about weed ed­i­bles: sur­vey

Truro Daily News - - CANADA -

Cana­di­ans ap­pear to have an ap­petite for mar­i­juana-in­fused munchies, ac­cord­ing to a new sur­vey that found a healthy ma­jor­ity both sup­ported the le­gal­iza­tion of recre­ational pot use but had clear con­cerns about chil­dren’s ac­cess to ed­i­ble prod­ucts con­tain­ing cannabis.

The poll by re­searchers at Dal­housie Univer­sity in Hal­i­fax found that about 68 per cent of peo­ple across the coun­try favour the im­pend­ing le­gal­iza­tion of pot, with the bulk of that sup­port in B.C. and On­tario.

Just over 45 per cent said they would buy food con­tain­ing mar­i­juana, with 46 per cent say­ing they would pur­chase pot-laced baked goods like brown­ies and muffins if they were le­gal.

How­ever, more than half of those sur­veyed said they had over­ar­ch­ing con­cerns about the po­ten­tial harms to chil­dren who may be drawn to gummy can­dies, cook­ies and other con­fec­tions con­tain­ing the psy­choac­tive chem­i­cal. In B.C., for ex­am­ple, about 81 per cent of those sur­veyed ex­pressed con­cern over in­creased ac­cess to pot by young adults.

“The risk el­e­ment around chil­dren was quite high at 58.5 per cent, so there seems to be a bit of para­dox out there,” said Syl­vain Charlebois, a pro­fes­sor of food dis­tri­bu­tion and pol­icy at Dal­housie who co-au­thored the report re­leased Tues­day.

“On the one hand, peo­ple are will­ing to ac­cept the le­gal­iza­tion of non-medic­i­nal mar­i­juana but at the same time they do rec­og­nize so­ci­etal risks re­lated to do­ing so.”

The aim of the sur­vey, done over four weeks in Au­gust, was to gauge Cana­di­ans’ per­cep­tion of recre­ational mar­i­juana as a food in­gre­di­ent when it is le­gal­ized next July, if they would use it in their diet and, if so, how they would pre­pare it.

It found that de­spite peo­ple’s ap­par­ent will­ing­ness to try ed­i­ble prod­ucts, the bulk of sur­vey par­tic­i­pants in­di­cated they didn’t know how to cook with

mar­i­juana at home and most said they did not con­sider it a healthy in­gre­di­ent.

Charlebois said that ap­par­ent con­fu­sion over what to do with the prod­ucts should com­pel the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce a frame­work around the con­sump­tion of ed­i­bles when le­gal­iza­tion pro­ceeds with the Cannabis Act.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau in­sists le­gal­iz­ing mar­i­juana will keep pot out of the hands of chil­dren and deny crim­i­nals the prof­its of back-al­ley deal­ing. Ot­tawa has said it will not al­low the pur­chase of ed­i­ble prod­ucts un­til it de­vel­ops reg­u­la­tory over­sight for the goods, in­clud­ing rules on serv­ing sizes and po­tency, chil­dresis­tant pack­ag­ing re­quire­ments and health warn­ings.

But, Charlebois says that once mar­i­juana be­comes le­gal it will likely be mixed into a va­ri­ety of prod­ucts be­fore Ot­tawa comes up with such mea­sures.

“We should think about rolling out ed­i­bles as soon as pos­si­ble with clear guide­lines for the in­dus­try,” he said in an in­ter­view.

“Right now, prov­inces are be­ing ab­so­lutely hy­per-con­ser­va­tive around the dis­tri­bu­tion of the com­mod­ity in­stead of think­ing about the ap­pli­ca­tions of the com­mod­ity at the re­tail level, like at restau­rants and food ser­vices.”

Charlebois cited the ex­am­ple of Colorado, which le­gal­ized mar­i­juana in 2012 with­out reg­u­la­tions over the sale of cannabis­in­fused ed­i­bles. He says the state saw sev­eral cases of young peo­ple be­ing hos­pi­tal­ized af­ter eat­ing the goods.

In one case, a 19-year-old ate an en­tire cookie con­tain­ing 65 mg of THC even though the shop clerk ad­vised him to di­vide the treat into six serv­ings. The boy didn’t re­al­ize it takes time for a high to kick in when con­sum­ing pot in ed­i­ble form and ate the cookie. That evening he jumped to his death from a fourth-floor bal­cony.

Colorado saw an in­crease in the num­ber of mar­i­juana-re­lated poi­son­ings, par­tic­u­larly ac­ci­den­tal in­ges­tion by chil­dren, in the first year of its new regime and even­tu­ally ush­ered in new reg­u­la­tions lim­it­ing THC lev­els in ed­i­ble items.

Still, Charlebois says le­gal­ized mar­i­juana could be the next big lu­cra­tive trend in the Canadian food in­dus­try, with cu­rios­ity be­ing the Num­ber 1 rea­son sur­vey par­tic­i­pants cited for want­ing to try the goods.

“This could be the next gluten­free phe­nom­e­non,” he said, cit­ing the mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar in­dus­try. “A lot of com­pa­nies are see­ing mar­i­juana as the next trend.”

FILE PHOTO

Cana­di­ans ap­pear to have an ap­petite for mar­i­juana-in­fused munchies, ac­cord­ing to a new sur­vey that found a healthy ma­jor­ity both sup­ported the le­gal­iza­tion of recre­ational pot use but had clear con­cerns about chil­dren’s ac­cess to ed­i­ble prod­ucts con­tain­ing cannabis.

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