Manitobans will be getting a crash course in safely using cannabis edibles in the coming months, courtesy of the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba.
The provincial cannabis store regulator launched a new round of its "Know My Limits" public education campaign on Tuesday, unveiling a suite of messages that will appear across Manitoba on billboards, transit advertising spaces, public posters and social media spots through next January.
The campaign precedes the sale of three new classes of government-regulated cannabis that will be available in licensed cannabis stores as early as mid-December: Cannabis-infused foods like candies and beverages, high-potency cannabis extract products like vape pens and shatter, and topical forms of cannabis like skin creams.
LGCA's new messaging focuses especially on cannabis edibles, with one key message reminding Manitobans to store them safely away from curious children and peckish pets.
"Manitobans emphasized, again and again in our focus groups, that they did not want this product to land in the hands of children, and so we really do just want to have that message out there as a strong reminder that one of safe steps people can use is keeping this stored safely," said LGCA's new executive director and CEO Kristianne Dechant, who took the agency's helm in early October.
Another core message, "Point out the pot," reminds Manitobans who might be serving cannabis-infused food at a party to disclose that fact to their guests. During a Tuesday press conference at LGCA's Winnipeg headquarters, Dechant said several participants in focus groups held this spring said they'd unknowingly consumed cannabis edibles in the past.
Justice Minister Cliff Cullen confirmed the Progressive Conservative government will soon introduce legislation to prohibit the use of cannabis edibles in public, updating the law to match the existing provincial ban on smoking or vaporizing cannabis in public. Cullen said Manitoba Public Insurance will also be launching a campaign to remind drivers that the new cannabis products shouldn't be used before hitting the road.Advertisement
Unlike the relatively fast-acting high from inhaled cannabis, it may take hours for users of orally-ingested forms of marijuana to feel the drug's effects. That's been linked to accidental over-consumption by users of cannabis edibles in some U.S. jurisdictions where the drug is legal, Cullen said.
"They will take a product, and then consume another product right away, and quickly you're into an overdose situation... That's why we want to make people understand that these products are different than the regular cannabis products that people are used to, that's why this education component is so important," he said.
But the shape of cannabis legalization in Canada is a far cry from the hodge-podge approaches taken by various U.S. states, added LGCA CEO Dechant.
"Canada's situation is really different, in that we have federal requirements for packaging, for labelling... THC content is limited, for all products but particularly for edibles," she said.
"And also we have child-safe packaging, things like that… What we're hoping is that we won't see those same spikes of people visiting emergency rooms and having to call poison control centres."
Federal cannabis regulations will limit commercially-produced cannabis edibles to no more than ten milligrams per package of THC, the chemical compound responsible for the plant's intoxicating effects. LGCA's new campaign advises users to "Choose low THC," suggesting "lower-risk" cannabis edibles with less than 2.5 milligrams of THC per serving.
The new LGCA campaign cost a total of $450,000, Justice Minister Cullen said Tuesday.