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Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 10:53 AM on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

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Edible Arrangements: The Global Cannabis Edibles Market

  • The global cannabis edibles market is one of the most promising segments of the overall industry, presenting a world of opportunity for cannabis edibles companies to set themselves apart with unique and appealing products.
  • For cannabis connoisseurs, cannabis edibles have always been an alluring proposition.

For cannabis connoisseurs, cannabis edibles have always been an alluring proposition. Take something you already enjoy, and add it to something delicious. What’s not to like? The classic “special brownie” and the famous “space cakes” that have been enjoyed at Amsterdam coffee shops for decades are only just the tip of the edibles iceberg. Today, cannabis is being added to candy, artisanal baked goods, coffee, jerky, pizza, upscale cuisine and so much more, meaning the possibilities are endless for the global cannabis edibles market.

It’s no surprise that the Canadian legal cannabis industry is hungrily eyeing cannabis edibles as they promise to account for a huge portion of the overall cannabis market as soon as Health Canada allows it. In the meantime, however, this highly promising market segment faces some significant regulatory challenges. That won’t stop companies from taking an interest in edibles, as they already make up a huge portion of the market in legal jurisdictions where they are allowed, such as California and Nevada.

Edibles to take cannabis market by storm

The consumer appeal of edibles is obvious. The sheer amount of variability creates countless possibilities for cannabis companies looking to make their products stand out. Edibles can be tailored to any type of cannabis consumer, from high-end dark chocolates served at posh dinner parties to gummy candies enjoyed before a rock concert. It’s easy to make edible cannabis products eye catching and appealing. For newcomers trying cannabis for the first time after legalization, edibles may provide a less intimidating entry point than smoking or vaping. And medical users often appreciate the stronger and longer-lasting effect of orally ingested cannabis.

An October 2018 report by ArcView Market Research and BDS Analytics projects the North American cannabis edibles market to hit more than $4.1 billion by 2022. According to the report, food and drink products accounted for approximately 11.4 percent of total cannabis spending in Canada and the United States in 2017. As the cannabis market matures and develops, and as edible products return to dispensary shelves in Canada, classic dried cannabis flower is expected to steadily lose market share to edibles and extracts.

Regulatory challenges and solutions

Right now in Canada, though, the more immediate future of the cannabis edibles market is less certain. Edibles were not included in the first wave of cannabis legalization that took place in October 2018, with Health Canada opting to conduct further study and consultation before rolling out regulatory rules by October 2019. This put a wrench in the gears for the hundreds of cannabis companies that had made edibles a key part of their initial business strategy. In early 2019, Health Canada began a two-month public consultation period as part of the process of determining the edibles regulatory scheme. By all accounts, the restrictions are likely to be heavy. Chief among the rules will be restrictions on potency and mandates on accurate potency labeling.

The concerns over potency and accurate labeling aren’t entirely unwarranted. Cannabis edibles have always been tricky in the way they hit the user. Cannabis ingested through the digestive system can take an hour or more to for the user to notice the effect, and inexperienced users have commonly been known to make the rookie mistake of taking more under the belief that they haven’t taken a high enough dosage. Due to the intense nature of edible products, the appeal of edibles to inexperienced cannabis users in particular can be a recipe for disaster. Excessive dosage of cannabis is not highly dangerous in that it will not cause poisoning or other health emergencies, but cannabis-related panic attacks can still present a risk.

This is why cannabis companies that plan on making edibles a significant part of their business model have dedicated considerable resources to developing precision dosing technology. The challenge stems from the fact that the rate in which cannabis breaks down as it enters the bloodstream varies significantly based on a number of factors, including the specific physiology of the consumer.

Recent years have seen the development of tools for manipulating cannabis at the molecular level for greater bioavailability, allowing edibles manufacturers to provide a more predictable product for easier regulatory compliance and greater consumer trust.

Regulators have been placing a range of other regulatory hurdles in the way of the edibles market. Health Canada is expected to enforce tight restrictions on edibles packaging, limiting the use of colorful graphics and other eye-catching elements largely with the intent of limiting the products’ appeal to children. Packaging will also need to be child resistant. Regulators in various jurisdictions have often restricted potency, with Health Canada expected to limit products to 10 milligrams of THC per dose. Similarly, California has focused its regulations around keeping cannabis edibles out of the hands of children with a universal cannabis product symbol, a government warning, child-proof packaging and clear labeling for potency and recommended dosage.


Not every cannabis consumer is particularly interested in smoking or vaping, but everyone is interested in tasty treats. Meeting regulatory hurdles for dosing and keeping products out of the hands of children has been a challenge, but these challenges hardly reduce the potential of what promises to be, and in many jurisdictions already is, one of the primary market segments of the cannabis industry.


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