Brad Churchill, President of Choklat, poses in his northeast Calgary office on Friday, June 14, 2019. When cannabis edibles become legalized, his company plans on producing cannabis edibles as well as his popular non-cannabis related products.
Jim Wells / Postmedia
Brad Churchill says he poised to deliver millions of chocolate bar buzzes from his northeast Calgary factory.Friday’s announcement that cannabis edibles could be available by mid-December was taken in stride by the craft confectioner who operates Choklat, which he said should be capable of producing 100,000 doses of 10-mg THC chocolate bars a day by that time.“We’re well on our way, we’ve been ramping up,” said Churchill.“We’ve secured supply and distribution partners and we’ll have over $1 million in renovations in our facility.”His Calgary production lines should be daily crafting another 38,000 packets of cannabis-infused sugar capable of livening up a cup of coffee or tea.While some have suggested cannabis legal edibles that’ll include beverages will be Christmas stocking stuffers, Churchill said uncertainty over Health Canada’s packaging regulations and other logistical bottlenecks might mean a slightly later arrival on retailers’ shelves.
Churchill said estimates of having edibles on store shelves by December are likely overly-optimistic.
Jim Wells /
That’ll probably be the case, said Michelle Russell, executive director of the Alberta Cannabis Council (ACC).“I think Health Canada is trying to lower the expectations of consumers,” she said of the federal agency overseeing the process nationally.“We would be very fortunate and I’d be surprised if we saw it on store shelves for Christmas, it might be more like early 2020.”It wouldn’t be surprising, said Russell, if consumers and retailers experience supply constraints similar to what plagued dried flower that led to a six-month moratorium on new store approvals in Alberta.“The supply chain of those products from producer to consumer remains the same,” she said.It’s even possible the supply of dried flower could be constrained by next fall, said Mike “Kato” Tomiyama, chief operating officer of retailer 420 Premium Market.“It could actually encroach on the dried flower side if a lot of the flower is used to make edibles,” he said.But an ever-increasing number of licensed producers, whose number is now approaching 200 in Canada, will likely mitigate those concerns, added Tomiyama.Some producers and retailers have been critical of federal regulations limiting edibles to single-package THC doses of 10 mg., concerned it’ll produce a deluge of container materialBut Russell’s in favour of an approach she said is aimed at protecting the consumer and public health.Those regulations also demand edible products lack a colourful quality attractive to children.
Edible cannabis products are displayed at Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary in Las Vegas, Nevada. Canadian regulators have expressed concern about colorful packaging on edible cannabis that could appeal to children.
Ethan Miller /
The bottom line, said Russell, is legal edibles, beverages and topicals will significantly expand the cannabis market, appealing to those who choose not to smoke.“It’ll be a big factor for a lot of first-time consumers or those who haven’t for a while and are coming back to test the waters,” she said.Even so, the new products shouldn’t be expected to displace inhaled dried flower anytime soon, said Russell, pointing to the experience of Colorado, where the market share is evenly split six years after the state legalized the drug.Both Russell and a spokeswoman for provincial regulator Alberta Gaming Liquor Cannabis said it’s too early to say what retail prices for the products will be, though Choklat’s Churchill predicted 10 mg of THC-steeped treat could go for about $9.A wide variety of edibles and other cannabis extracts have long been easily accessible on black market websites that continue to do a thriving business since recreational legalization.Russell said the introduction of legal extracts will eventually cut deeply into the illicit sales.“It’s another step in the right direction…but it’s going to take time,” she said.Even if the federal Liberal government is defeated in this fall’s election, the business momentum behind the expansion of legalization isn’t likely to be halted said Nick Pateras, an industry expert with Lift & Co.“A (prospective) federal government wants to be very cautious about big cannabis narratives close to a federal election,” he said.“There’s very little that can be changed whether new products are introduced or not — it’s not going to be easily disrupted by a new Conservative government.”The ACC’s Russell said most, if not all of Alberta’s 14 licensed cannabis cultivators will also produce some kind of extracts or edibles, though a federal processing licence is required to do so.BKaufmann@postmedia.comon Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn