Excessive edible cannabis packaging could be buzz kill: producers
January 28, 2019

Excessive packaging now plaguing legal pot could make cannabis edibles harder to swallow, say industry players.

Ottawa’s proposal to limit a legally maximum 10 mg dose of THC to a single package is wasteful and bad optics for a product rooted in environmental awareness, say some producers who want the federal government to relax that guideline.

“Most cannabis consumers care very much about the environment and we’ve already gotten a lot of flak from the public,” said Allan Rewak, executive director of the Cannabis Council of Canada which represents licensed producers.

“You’re going to see plastic containers piled up outside stores with people putting (edibles) all in one container.”

A frequent knock on legal cannabis retailing is the often multi-layered packaging that involves paper, cardboard and different forms of plastic for even the smallest quantity of bud.

Many in the industry expect edibles and other derivatives to become hugely popular once and even eclipse smokeable products after they’re legalized in October.

Rewak said he appreciates the fact some of that packaging is meant to render legal cannabis child-proof and he’s not opposed to the 10-mg limit for THC in single doses.

But he says more of those 10-mg doses should be allowed in each package.

“Can you imagine the amount of waste it will generate? We should be able to have 10 doses in child-proof containers,” said Rewak, adding Ottawa is dumping the waste issue on the provinces and local governments.

Awareness of wasteful packaging has even been exploited by black market dealers, including one in Calgary who sells his product in glass mason jars that can be refilled or recycled.

Peter Aceto said his company is hearing the concerns from clients.

“The edible legislation does imply a lot of packaging but we would like less of it — our patients and customers would like less packaging,” said Aceto, CEO of licensed cannabis producer and retailer CannTrust.

Much of the existing container surface is used to host government excise stamps and warnings, space Aceto said he’d like to see reduced, instead to be used more for CannTrust’s branding.

Some companies, including producer Canopy Growth, have teamed up with such recycling outfits as TerraCycle to ensure their packaging doesn’t end up in landfills.

“It’s on us as producers to deal with the problem and it’s a choice of our business, it’s not baked into the regulations,” said Canopy Growth spokesman Jordan Sinclair.

Alberta-based cannabis retailer Canna Cabana said it’s launched an effort to collect any of the Health Canada-sanctioned package, at no charge, to have it reduced to pellets for re-purposing.

“Excessive packaging has been a recurring theme in the media and feedback from customers,” said a company press release.

Cannabis industry players say the issue is one they’re putting forth during a 60-day consultation process in response to Health Canada’s draft regulations on edibles and derivatives, which ends Feb. 20.

A spokeswoman for Health Canada said since that consultation is still ongoing, it’s too early to say how the government might respond the industry’s concerns.

But she pointed to a ministry website which detailed how proposed packaging requirements ensure their contents are safe overall and less attractive to youth.

It estimates meeting regulations on packaging, labelling and record-keeping would cost industry players $5.8 million a year.

“In contrast, the public health and public safety benefits resulting from the current proposal are considerable, even if they cannot be quantified,” it states.

“It is expected that these benefits would outweigh the costs.”

The cannabis council’s Rewak said he’s not optimistic about the chances of changing Ottawa’s mind.

“The truth is, regulations don’t change that much during consultations,” he said.

Written by: Bill Kaufmann
[email protected]
On Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

Source: Calgary Herald