Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/9/2018 – that’s before recreational cannabis was legal in Canada, so language and information in the article may be dated.
Dear Herb: After legalization, how will folks buy concentrates like hash oil or shatter? — A Little Dab'll Do Ya
Dear Little Dab: Good question. The short answer is, Canadians won't be able to legally purchase cannabis concentrates such as hash oil or shatter immediately after legalization.
Why not, you ask?
Along with cannabis edibles, Health Canada is taking extra time to develop the regulations that will govern commercially-produced cannabis concentrates. (The official word is that licensed production and sales of concentrates and edibles will be "permitted no later than 12 months following the coming into force of the proposed legislation" — in other words, no later than Oct. 17, 2019.)
For more information, you might want to read this Leaf News story from April about vape pens, an increasingly popular form of marijuana consumption that involves concentrated cannabis oil. When we contacted Health Canada to ask why they were taking so long to create the rules that will allow vape pens and other concentrates, a spokeswoman provided us with the following statement:
"We have learned from U.S. states that have legalized and regulated access to cannabis that concentrates, including liquid vaping solutions that typically have potencies of 50 per cent to 60 per cent THC, present unique health and safety risks and require careful study in order to develop appropriate regulatory safeguards. And as such, we are taking a cautious, public health approach to the development of these regulations, based on the best evidence available."
The Health Canada spokeswoman also told us that the federal cannabis legalization task force highlighted a key issue for regulating concentrates: "The health risks associated with products that have high levels of THC."Advertisement
"This points to the need to consider controls on the amount of THC in concentrates, as well as the need for measures to ensure that concentrates are appropriately packaged and labelled to support safe consumption by adults. This also highlights the need for public education on concentrates, including information on how the consumption of higher-potency products can increase the risk of dependence as well as affect mental functioning," she said.
Based on that statement, it sounds like Health Canada might be considering some kind of maximum potency limit on cannabis concentrates — or, at the very least, special packaging and labelling with extra warnings.
Until Health Canada gets around to regulating them, cannabis concentrates such as shatter will remain a form of unlicensed, illicit cannabis.
If you're a loyal Dear Herb reader, you might already know that it will be legal for cannabis users to make their own edibles as of Oct. 17, 2018, even though commercially-produced edibles won't be on shelves for another year.
So, you might be asking yourself, "Can I legally make my own shatter after legalization?" The answer is no. Shatter is made using organic solvents such as butane or propane, and the federal Cannabis Act explicitly prohibits manipulating cannabis using such solvents unless you're licensed by the government to do so. (Home shatter labs have led to deadly consequences in some cases.)
That said, if you really want to make your own cannabis concentrates at home after legalization without running afoul of the law, you could do so by using a solvent-free method such as bubble hash or dry sift hash, or by using a rosin press. You will also be able to legally purchase concentrated, ingestible cannabis oils as of legalization day, but smoking or dabbing that stuff would be a very bad idea — it's meant for oral ingestion only.
To sum up: Canadians won't be able to legally buy commercially produced cannabis concentrates such as shatter until some time in 2019, and individual Canadians won't be allowed to produce any concentrates by using organic solvents.
In the interim, the illicit market will be the only way for Canadians to get their hands on shatter, and that would involve breaking the law.
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