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Edibles expected to shake up Alberta cannabis market

WATCH: Cannabis has been legal in Canada for one year and Thursday, we entered a new era, as products such as edibles are also legal. As Julia Wong reports, there's hope it will change the game in Alberta's industry.

Canada is celebrating one year of recreational cannabis legalization and on Thursday, it is entering a new era.

Products, such as edibles, extracts and topicals, are now legal but it will be some time before you see them on the shelf in Alberta.

Licensed producers are required to give Health Canada 60 days notice of their intent to sell, meaning it could be late 2019 or early 2020 before any products are available for purchase online or in stores.

READ MORE: Cannabis edibles expected to hit Canadian shelves mid-December

Heather Thomson, executive director of the School of Retailing at the Alberta School of Business, said these new products will change the market.

“We’ll be getting new customers entering the cannabis retail space.

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“We’re going to see more people who haven’t necessarily tried the product because they’re not comfortable with vaping or smoking the product actually now be able to recreationally try the product themselves in a different capacity,” she said.

Thomson said there is still room for the market to grow thanks to the introduction of edibles and other products.

“We’re going to have to see how that’s going to play out but I definitely don’t think we’re near saturation just yet,” she said.

How edibles are expected to change Canada’s cannabis game
How edibles are expected to change Canada’s cannabis game

Stores seeing success

Daniel Nguyen, founder of Numo Cannabis, said there has been high interest in edibles.

“We get questions every day about edibles, concentrates and things like that,” he said.

“I think a lot of customers are ready to see that chocolate, see that gummy and ingest.”

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READ MORE: Canada’s cannabis edibles, topicals market could be worth $2.7B a year after legalization: study

Nguyen said business has been brisk in the year since legalization.

“It’s been very consistent, very steady. I’m very surprised at the flow throughout the day. It’s just very non-stop,” he said.

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There are plans to expand the company with a second location in the Chinatown area.

“We had a great opportunity to expand into our other location. When the opportunity came, we decided just to take it,” Nguyen said, adding the second store will open in November.

Watch below: Cannabis lawyer Trina Fraser discusses the roll out of the second phase of legal marijuana in Canada, which includes the permitted legal sale of cannabis edibles, expected to hit store shelves in December.

Next phase of Canada’s cannabis legalization takes effect
Next phase of Canada’s cannabis legalization takes effect

Health concerns

Alberta Health Services is urging caution when it comes to the new cannabis products.

Dr. Brent Friesen, medical officer of health, said the new phase of edible, extract and topical legalization is of concern when it comes to young children.

“These products may be more attractive to children or youth or more accessible. We could see an increase in poisonings among children,” he said.

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Friesen said those around children should ensure the products are locked up in a secure location.

He said women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also be cautious.

“There is no safe level of consumption for cannabis while you’re pregnant or while you’re breastfeeding. It’s very important that they not think, ‘Okay, we’ve got cannabis available in edible format that’s safe for me to use compared to vaping or smoking it,’” Friesen said.

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Friesen said the potential for toxicity in edibles is much greater and that there is often a delay between when an edible is ingested and when a person feels the effects of it.

He advises those using edibles to start low and go slow, adding users should read the information about edibles so they are aware of the THC dosage in each portion.

In a 10-month period before legalization, Oct. 17, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2018, AHS saw 139 emergency room visits due to cannabis-induced psychosis in Alberta. In the same period post-legalization, there were 154 visits.