Ottawa Public Health wants more restrictions on cannabis products, packaging to protect children

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Ottawa Public Health wants to see tighter restrictions on cannabis products and their packaging to reduce their appeal to children.

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Changes aimed at reducing accidental poisoning and the use of cannabis products by children are among the recommendations OPH is making to the federal government as part of consultations on potential changes to cannabis legislation.

Citing research showing that accidental poisoning of Canadian children is on the rise, OPH recommends banning the words candy and sweets from the packaging of cannabis products, and also banning shapes, specks and colors that might appeal to children .

Current federal regulations already include measures to limit the attractiveness of cannabis products to young people through simple packaging and labeling requirements, but OPH wants them to go further.

OPH also recommends that there be a maximum density for the number of physical retail stores allowed to open, noting that there are approximately 118 cannabis outlets in Ottawa. The city itself lacks the ability to control density.

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OPH also wants other changes aimed at reducing the potential harm or unintended consequences of cannabis products. Between them:

Including not for children in health warning statements

Ban any product that resembles or mimics familiar foods or is associated with a well-known brand of food or candy that might appeal to children, such as gummy bears or lollipops

Prohibit the use of flavoring agents in cannabis extracts

Request information on what to do in case of accidental ingestion or excessive consumption on all cannabis products

Establishing a centralized point of contact for poison control

Stamp individual products with a THC label

OPH also wants to see the limit on the maximum levels of delta-9-THC allowed in cannabis products to be applied to the total of all intoxicating cannabinoids present in the products. OPH notes that there are more than 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

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Presentation of total intoxicant content on a label informs the consumer of a cannabis product’s potency, the recommendations say, adding that higher potency cannabis products have been associated with an increased risk of harm.

A study by a team led by Dr. Daniel Myran, a family physician, public health and preventive medicine specialist, and postdoctoral fellow at the Ottawa Hospital and the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Ottawa, found that Ontario had nine times as many emergency room visits per month for cannabis poisoning in children under 10 after Canada legalized recreational cannabis. The study was published in JAMA Network Open in 2022.

We’ve seen more frequent and severe emergency room visits due to cannabis poisoning in children under 10 following the legalization of cannabis, and the legalization of edible cannabis products appears to be a key factor, Myran said. era.

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During the second period of legalization in Canada (when edibles were legalized) cannabis poisoning hospitalizations in provinces that allowed the sale of edibles were 7.5 times higher than before the legislation. In Quebec, which has banned the sale of cannabis-based candy, hospitalizations were three times higher than before legalization.

OPH said experiences in Colorado and Washington state, which have also seen an increase in food-related cannabis overdoses and an increase in emergency room visits, are instructive.

Similar to OPH’s recommendations, Colorado has banned the words candy or candy and limited the amount of THC per single edible serving to 10 mg. It also banned the use of shapes that might appeal to children and required the universal THC symbol to be embossed on all edible cannabis products. Washington State has taken similar action.

The recommendations were approved by the Ottawas Board of Health on Monday.

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