Edible cannabis introduction comes with issues: Daya
By Tony Poland, AdvocateDaily.com Associate Editor
The legalization of edible cannabis products brings with it a Pandora’s Box of concerns and complications, says Toronto personal injury lawyer Jasmine Daya.
“It’s a really interesting time. I am personally torn. As a personal injury lawyer, I have great concerns,” says Daya, managing principal with Jasmine Daya & Co. “As a private individual, I do believe that the product should be legalized because I think responsible adults should be able to decide what they want to consume.
“But it’s highly problematic.”
She says, as an everyday citizen, she believes legalization makes sense.
“I think people should be able to use it in a safe manner rather than going to the black market, which is what they were doing for years,” Daya tells AdvocateDaily.com. “However, as a personal injury lawyer, I’m very concerned about what we’re going to see in the years to come.”
On Oct. 17, edibles, cannabis extracts, and topical products will become legal, and available in stores by mid-December. But, there are still issues that need to be addressed, she says.
“There’s a huge concern now because perhaps we’ve rolled out the legalization aspect on this a little too fast,” Daya says. “People ask why this is an issue now when people have been using cannabis for years. It’s a concern because people were using it illegally, so if they became sick, that was their issue. When the government permits and legalizes a substance, and then it makes people ill, that is usually problematic from a legal perspective because the government has a duty to protect the public.”
The products could come in the form of gummy candy, chocolate, and cookies, which can present a problem when someone consumes them without realizing they contain marijuana, she says, adding there is potential for the products to be left out in the open where it could inadvertently be consumed by children or pets.
“It would be naive to suggest that people aren’t already consuming edibles. But, because it was illegal, people were more conscientious about storing them in a safe and concealed manner to ensure that they weren’t caught with the substances,” Daya says. “However, when a substance becomes legal, then I think people are less secretive about having them. It’s legal, so they don’t need to hide these items.”
Because edible products come in such pleasing forms for children, “there can be significant ramifications” if they fall into the wrong hands, she says.
Edibles can also be attractive to pets, Daya says, adding she has heard some veterinarians have experienced an “uptick” in dogs ingesting the products and becoming ill.
It’s not just children that could be affected, Daya says. A person may not realize the cookie they just ate contains marijuana and could conceivably get behind the wheel of a vehicle and cause an accident.
Also, because it can take a while to feel the impact of an edible, a person could consume a cannabis gummy and then go to a bar and drink alcohol, she says.
“You may appear fine when you arrive. All of a sudden, this edible is going to hit you, plus you’re combining that with alcohol,” Daya says. “It causes a burden on bars and restaurants because how are they supposed to tell if you are impaired?
“That can open the establishment up to liability because they served an alcoholic beverage to an impaired person who went out and had an accident or something happened to them, causing injury.”
There is also the social host’s responsibilities to consider, she says, noting that a person could serve edibles to those who cannot handle drugs even in small amounts.
Further complicating the issue is the fact that the introduction of legalized marijuana has resulted in shortages of the product, and the same is anticipated for edibles, Daya says.
“That’s going to entice individuals to turn to the black market because they will believe that it’s legal to go to the streets to buy it,” she says. “It’s only legal if it’s purchased legally.
“People who may not have bought from the black market before may buy there now because marijuana is legalized. If you are turning to the black market, you don’t know what you’re getting. Dealers may cut corners in order to be able to handle the surge in demand.”
Daya says it may not be enough for the government to “impose strict rules on labelling to prevent it being marketed to children.”
“Putting rules on marketing doesn’t necessarily help,” she says. “A piece of chocolate or a gummy are items that children love. If kids see a gummy or a cookie on the counter, chances are they are going to bite into it.”
She says the best advice she can give is to consider the people you are serving it to, and don’t leave edibles lying around.
“Safely storing these products is necessary even though it is legalized,” Daya says.