The wait is over for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-infused edibles in Calgary.
The second wave of Canada’s cannabis legalization took effect Dec. 17, 2019 but regulations and logistics delayed products from hitting the shelves across the country.
A number of dispensaries received cannabis-infused gummies and chocolates on Monday, including Queen of Bud, Four20 Premium Market (at their Kensington location) and Aylmer Nelson Cannabis.
Green Earth Cannabis has said it expects a shipment to arrive Tuesday, and another local shop, Bud Bar Cannabis, said it is expecting an edibles shipment on Friday.
Sales of cannabis vape cartridges are being held by the province as it awaits results of a review of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act.
Edibles offer an alternative to people who want to try cannabis but aren't interested in smoking or vaping. While smoking and vaping can be felt almost immediately, ingesting cannabis takes much longer for the psychoactive ingredient to start taking effect.
"It’s a long delay until the THC hits your brain, up to two to four hours," said Calgary physician Dr. Raj Bhardwaj. "Then it stays in your system for up to 24 hours."
The doctor recommends anyone trying cannabis edibles for the first time not use it with alcohol or caffeine and block off many hours for the effects.
"Have a big window for saying ok I’m going to try the cannabis and I’m not going to do anything that requires driving or childcare or any kind of responsibilities."
Bhardwaj said portion sizes and pre-existing health conditions are important factors to consider.
The Canadian Journal of Cardiology published a report about a 70-year-old Saint John, N.B. man who died after his first time trying marijuana in the form of a lollipop containing 90 mg of THC, nine times the suggested starting dose.
"He ended up having hallucinations and got terrified, which then gave him chest pain, ended up going to the hospital, diagnosed with a heart attack," said Bhardwaj. "In somebody with pre-existing heart disease, somebody who’s older, somebody who’s naive to the effects of cannabis, edibles are sometimes not safe."
The lollipop was purchased before cannabis was legal in Canada. The Saint John’s man who died had decided to try marijuana in an effort to alleviate arthritis pain.
Health Canada limits doses to 10 mg per package of cannabis edibles.
Bhardwaj recommends talking to your doctor if you're considering cannabis as an option to treat a health condition.