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In Canada, Marijuana Edible Sales Delayed Even As Interest Among Canadians Grows

What a new survey tells us about the appetite for edibles.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Canada continues to move forward on national legalization of marijuana, which is set to happen in July 2018. But, one product will have to wait a year beyond that date: edible marijuana.

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While the wait will delay what has been a profitable business in U.S. states where cannabis is legal, it's a win for the marijuana industry because edibles originally were not going to be legal at all.

When Canadian leaders first drafted the legislation that will make both medical and recreational marijuana legal across the nation, they decided not to include marijuana-infused edible products.

However, that changed this month after a vote by the Canadian House of Commons health committee. The committee decided to allow edible sales, but not until July 2019.

Related: Polls Find Voters In Pennsylvania, New Jersey Support Legal Marijuana

Edible delay

Why delay edibles in the first place? Because some have concerns about the potency of the products and the lack of knowledge among the public about how they work.

Put simply, edible users typically wait longer to feel the effects of marijuana because they work through the body's digestive system rather than the quicker route through the respiratory system. That's an issue because people sometimes eat more than recommended when they don't immediately feel the effects.

Perhaps the most famous case of this involved New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who ate too much of a marijuana-infused chocolate bar, ending up "panting and paranoid" and incapacitated for eight hours.

However, the committee allowed edibles -- but not until 2019 -- after hearing testimony from experts.

Some, including the Colorado official who oversees regulated marijuana in that state, advocated a delay. Others, including a Johns Hopkins University professor who has studied the effects of cannabis, said legalized edibles should happen immediately to derail the black market.

The professor, Ryan Vandrey, also questioned the idea that edibles are more potent than smoking marijuana.

He told the committee, "It's really just the differences in the time course of the effects. I would disagree in the argument that you can't perceive the intoxication when you eat it. People are very aware that they're intoxicated."

Coincidentally, the committee's vote came out as a new survey shows a great deal of interest among Canadians for trying edibles.

Related: Is Alaska Poised to Be the Best State for Pot?

Canadians interested in edibles

A new survey conducted by Ipsos for Global News found that Canadians, particularly young ones, are very interested in trying edible cannabis products.

Among those surveyed, only seven percent said they regularly use edible marijuana products now. However, 29 percent of those in the survey say they plan to try it when cannabis becomes legal in Canada. Of those between the ages of 18 and 34, 51 percent said they plan to try edibles.

Those numbers drop significantly with older respondents. Of those between 35 and 54, about 28 percent said they would try edibles. Among those 55 years and older, the number dropped to 14 percent.

Non-smokers, for obvious reasons, were more interested in edibles than smokers. And while more men in the survey than women said they planned to try smoking marijuana once it's legal, an about equal number of men and women said they planned to try edibles.

Other findings from the survey included:

  • About seven percent of respondents said they would drink less alcohol once pot becomes legal.
  • That number was higher among millennials (about 11 percent).
  • About 37 percent of respondents said they will still disapprove of family and friends using marijuana after it becomes legal.
  • The disapproval numbers were highest among university graduates (44 percent) and older respondents, with 45 percent of those 55 and older saying they would disapprove. That contrasts to just 22 percent among millennials.

In perhaps the most interesting question -- especially for those with concerns about the marijuana black market -- respondents were asked why they don't use marijuana now and were given multiple reasons to pick.

Most chose "not interested" (77 percent) or "respect for current law" (19 percent). Less than two percent chose "don't know who to approach to buy."

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