If all things go to plan, as of July 1,  2018, legal-aged Canadians will be able to walk into a store, experience  a perhaps not-so-friendly retail environment and buy cannabis. Federal  and provincial government leaders are working out how and in what form  you will be able to buy it.
Edible  items containing cannabis (“edibles”) are prepared food products, such  as cakes, muffins, candy and drinks. This category also includes the  possibility of purchasing a restaurant meal that contains cannabis.  Edibles initially were to be banned under Bill C-45, the act to legalize  the recreational use of marijuana, but this was recently amended to  allow these goods. This will take place one year after regular cannabis  is legalized in Canada. So it seems Ottawa has changed its mind and,  arguably, for some good reasons.

First, if the retail price point of legalized cannabis remains unknown, the  black market could expand. As a result, edibles could become more  readily available to the public, which is less desirable. By allowing  edibles on the market, oversight regarding quality, safety, dosage,  packaging, labelling and other important aspects of food distribution is  more plausible.
Secondly, until  just recently, legislation stated that the only form of cannabis  available for purchase would be dried plant material for smoking and  that edible products would, for the time being, be banned. Most experts  agree that ingesting cannabis is better than smoking it. Not allowing  edibles would have sent the wrong message to the public, possibly  inviting many consumers to consider the black market for a healthier  choice. Meanwhile, Health Canada is informing Canadians that edibles are  the only form of safe cannabis consumption. This would have made the  whole thing quite awkward for the government.

Thirdly,  of course, are the various types of products which could cause harm to  children. Food innovation, free of any regulatory framework, can lead to  a mess. This is what the state of Colorado went through in 2014 when it  legalized marijuana. Child-friendly food products could become more  common, exposing children to harmful products. Candies, gummy bears,  suckers and drinks, are forms of edibles that are already being produced  and which are very attractive to children.
A  recent study from Dalhousie University shows that almost 60 per cent of  Canadians are concerned about the access children will have to cannabis  come July, 2018. That same study also showed that 46 per cent of  Canadians would try cannabis-infused food products, if they became  available on the market. The temptation clearly exists among consumers.  Most, driven by curiosity, will likely try to purchase products on the  black market.
The banning of edible  cannabis products was plainly shortsighted. Canada has a  well-established food processing and food-retail industry. These  industries, whether food manufacturers or restaurants, are not only  accustomed to producing consistent, high-quality products but also used  to following phytosanitary and food-safety regulations. It should be of  little challenge for them to create and deliver safe and quality assured  cannabis, as long as regulations are clear and predictable. They are  just waiting for the official government go-ahead to capitalize on what  is considered by many to be a highly lucrative market. It is not going  to happen any time soon, but allowing edibles will give a chance for the  market to adapt to and manage a potential cascade of cannabis-infused  food products.
Much work remains, but it will all be worth it and is something the Canadian public deserves.
Giving edibles more attention in the legislation is good news for everyone.
SYLVAIN CHARLEBOIS, Dean of the Faculty of Management, Professor in Food Distribution and Policy, Dalhousie University.