Cannabis edibles to be available for sale on Dec. 16
Bill Blair, the minister in charge for enforcing Ottawa’s cannabis policy, admitted the rollout of legalizing recreational cannabis has been met with “some challenges in the supply chain” but isn’t concerned that Canada may lose its place as a global leader in the legal marijuana industry.
“I've read a number of entrepreneurs are concerned they thought they could have made a lot more money quicker,” Blair told BNN Bloomberg in a phone interview. “I have to tell you that was never our goal. Our goal was to help the health and safety of Canadians, and we'd approach it in an appropriately careful and cautious way.”
Blair’s comments come as the federal government issued its final highly-anticipated regulations for next-generation cannabis products on Friday. The regulations will maintain most of the government’s early proposals drafted last year, including the maximum amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive ingredient found in the cannabis plant – that can be infused in these new cannabis products but will adopt several new amendments such as prohibit associating legal marijuana offerings with tobacco or alcohol items.
“I know that there are jurisdictions that focus primarily on maximizing revenue,” said Blair, who is also the minister of border security and organized crime reduction. “I will tell you without hesitation that in Canada, we focus overwhelmingly on the health of our citizens. We want this to be successful.”
“We've tried to strike an appropriate balance but we're always erroneous on the side of protection of our citizens.”
Blair said the government could re-evaluate some of the regulations in the future if the industry evolves and consumer tastes change. For now, he noted the policy is being enforced with an “appropriate abundance of caution.”
However, Blair admitted that legalizing recreational cannabis in October hasn’t been as smooth as originally anticipated, highlighting how producers and provinces alike didn’t really know precisely what products consumers would want and what their preferences would be.
“There's been some challenges in the supply chain but it's all being worked out. It's improving every single day,” he said.
Still, he welcomed recent statistics showing the legal market is beginning to put a dent in the black market.
According to recent figures from Statistics Canada, more Canadians are getting their legal pot from authorized sources. About 47 per cent of cannabis users, or 2.5 million Canadians, obtained cannabis from the legal market in the first quarter of 2019, compared with 23 per cent, or 954,000 people, over the same period in 2018, StatsCan said.
“There were basically four areas that would make the new market a success. It had to be competitive with the existing illicit market in choice, quality, price, and access,” Blair said.“There's some unevenness but generally, we've increased access to a legitimate source – and Canadians will make that choice.”