Cannabis vape products will be available for purchase in Alberta within the next few weeks.
The decision to allow the sale of cannabis vaping products came after an Alberta government review of the “available evidence, data and other provinces’ positions on cannabis vaping,” according to Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis.
Retailers in the province were notified directly on Friday, AGLC spokesperson Angelle Sasseville said in an email to Global News.
Retailers will be able to begin ordering products as early as this week, according to the AGLC, with products hitting store shelves in the next couple of weeks.
“There may be limited product from the onset but like all other products before vapes, inventory will increase in time,” Sasseville said in a statement.
“Retailers will have access to products first and then the online store will have product availability in the next couple of weeks.”
The sale of cannabis vaping products became legal in many parts of Canada in mid-December. At the time, the Alberta government said the products would not be available in the province until it completed its Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act review.
Rob Cherry, vice-president of merchandising with Fire & Flower Cannabis Co., welcomes the move, saying it will translate to incremental sales.
“We’ve been waiting for this opportunity,” he said Monday.
“We’ve had them in Ontario and Saskatchewan for some time now — they’ve done extremely well. So it’s great to see that we can provide our customers here with products that are in high demand.”
Concerns have been raised about Health Canada’s decision to allow the sale of cannabis vape products. In December, doctors on the front lines of an epidemic of vaping-related illnesses in Canada and the U.S. questioned the move.
“I’m really surprised that Canada is taking this step with all the data that has come out this year with how dangerous this stuff is,” said Dr. Mangala Narasimhan, a pulmonologist and the head of the Acute Lung Injury Center at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y.
“It really worries me because I think we should be heading in the opposite direction.”
Dr. Scott Patten is a community health sciences professor at the University of Calgary and also expressed concern.
“There’s quite a few uncertainties that remain about the safety of vaping in general and also around cannabis use, particularly in young people,” he said.
“There have been well-publicized cases of lung disease in association with vaping of nicotine, so the actual underlining pathophysiology of that problem isn’t well understood just yet, so that’s a concern.”
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As of Feb. 4 2020, 17 cases of vaping-related lung illness have been reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada, one of which was in Alberta. No deaths have been reported, according to Health Canada.
Cherry said all of the cannabis vape products are certified by Health Canada, and will not be flavoured.
“A lot of people are buying this product on the illicit market and they’re putting products like vitamin E acetate in it, which is causing some health issues,” he said.
“The terpenes that give it the flavour will be natural terpenes, so it will be the natural flavour of the product itself.
“There’s no cotton candy cannabis vapes or anything like that,” Cherry continued. “You can’t have any products that would be appealing to kids, appealing to below the age gate of 19. So things like cotton candy or bubble gum would be clearly appealing to that, so no.”
Cannabis vapes have so far been banned by two Canadian provinces. Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador have said they will not allow the sale of cannabis vapes, while Nova Scotia will not permit any flavoured cannabis vapes to be sold in that province.
With files from Emily Mertz and Heather Yourex-West, Global News.