A recap of Ingestible Extracts in 2023

| Sarah Clark

One of the more significant stories of 2023 was that of ‘ingestible extracts’ – products sold for oral consumption that contain more than 10mg per serving and per package, as limited for edible products by federal regulations. StratCann was there for every step of this evolving industry subject, analyzing its impact on producers, distributors, retailers, and consumers.

The subject continues to evolve, with products appearing, disappearing, and, in some cases, reappearing again, while Health Canada maintains that these products are not compliant. Nonetheless, consumers love them based on all available sales numbers.

First launched by Organigram in 2021, several other products followed suit by mid-2022. By early 2023, Health Canada had begun telling producers they could no longer sell these products. In March, several other companies confirmed with StratCann that they would also pause production, with Health Canada giving companies until May 31, 2023, to cease selling and distributing those products. 

Health Canada also issued a warning to the public in March about these products, urging consumer caution.

On March 31, Organigram filed for a judicial review of Health Canada’s decision to require an end to sales of “edible extracts” that exceed the federal 10mg THC packaging limit. 

Organigram’s argument in their application to the court was, in part, that the Jolts Lozenges are not edibles because they do not contain any sweeteners and that Health Canada was not transparent in their decision-making process.

In August, a judge approved Organigram’s application for judicial review of Health Canada’s decision to effectively ban these products. The case was then sent back to Health Canada for their opportunity to respond. 

Rather than agreeing with Organigram’s contention that the products were compliant, the judge ruled that the federal health agency’s process to reach that conclusion was unfair and deserved further analysis. 

The judge ruled that the unfairness of Health Canada’s decision on the ingestible extracts was partly due to it including additional factors in its decision-making process that Ogranigram was not given an opportunity to respond to.  

In October, Organigram began offering their Jolts products again in several provincial markets, saying that Health Canada had accepted the Judge’s ruling and that its initial ruling on Jolts being out of compliance is void. 

Following that announcement from Organigram in November, Health Canada said it was in the “redetermination process” regarding its initial ruling on Edison Jolts.

Health Canada maintains that it considers any product intended to be consumed in the same manner as food is not an extract. The agency sent out a memo to licence holders in December again reiterating this point, noting that the “classification of a cannabis product does not mean that the product is compliant with all regulations pertaining to that class of cannabis. Licence holders are responsible for making sure their cannabis products meet all the applicable requirements of the Cannabis Act and Cannabis Regulations.”

Interestingly, the disappearance of these products from shelves in BC appears to have led to an increase in the sales of cannabis oil capsules, with some consumers potentially discovering these products for the first time. While the capsules can still only contain up to 10mg THC each, they come in containers of 10, 30 or even 100, and at a much lower price.

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