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Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Caution against Overconsumption Risks with Edible Cannabis Products

Ottawa, February 25, 2019 — In a brief submitted to Health Canada’s consultation on Strict regulation of edible cannabis, extracts and topicals, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) cautions that edible cannabis products present the risk of overconsumption or accidental consumption.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive component of cannabis. When a consumer ingests
THC in an edible item, rather than smoking it, it takes longer for THC’s psychoactive effects to occur.
The variety of edibles that can be made from cannabis, including chocolates, cookies, brownies and
other common food products, also increases the risk of overconsumption or accidental consumption.
As CCSA made clear in its submission to Health Canada, public awareness and education is
fundamental to reducing these risks to the public.

CCSA makes a key recommendation that the amount of THC in a single unit of edible cannabis product
be limited to five milligrams. Cannabis containing high levels of THC is associated with greater health
risks and harms, including increased levels of impairment, dependence and experience of psychotic
episodes.

“Taking a public health approach to regulating cannabis applies the same principle as taking a harm
reduction approach to using cannabis: Start low and go slow,” explains Rebecca Jesseman, CCSA’s
director of policy.

CCSA’s brief to the Health Canada consultation, now available on the CCSA website, covers a variety
of topics that promote public health and safety. These include CCSA’s support of packaging and
labelling that maximize consumer information and minimize marketing and branding. Clear, simple
information using plain language about dosage is essential to reducing the risk of overconsumption.

CCSA’s non-partisan and evidence-based work informs decision-making and policy making at all
levels of government across Canada.

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