It looks like vaping products won’t be available in the Alberta cannabis market anytime soon. Even though Canada permits the sale of cannabis vaping products nationally, the province is still skeptical about them when it comes to people’s safety. The government of Alberta is currently in the process of reviewing tobacco products and other vaping products under its review of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act.
Alberta’s cannabis market
After Canada legalized recreational cannabis a year ago, Alberta became one of the leading cannabis markets in the country. The province has almost 300 retail cannabis stores, with Calgary having the highest number out of all the cities in Canada. Alberta has more stores than any other province. Even Ontario, the country’s most populous province, has only around two dozen retail stores.
The province expects to increase its retail store count to 500 in the next couple of years. Alberta’s cannabis market is growing continuously. The province’s cannabis market is expected to grow up to nearly $940 million in the next few years.
Why is Alberta holding off on vaping products?
Health Canada recently legalized all recreational cannabis products, including vaping products. As vaping-related illnesses have been increasing in number over the past few months in Canada and the US, many experts and doctors have become skeptical about Health Canada’s decision to legalize vaping. Some provinces, including Alberta, have put off the decision to sell vaping products to the public. Alberta’s government will decide after the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act review is over.
Dr. Mangala Narasimhan, pulmonologist and head of New York’s Acute Lung Injury Center, said, “I’m really surprised that Canada is taking this step with all the data that has come out this year with how dangerous this stuff is.”
Vaping-related illness was at its peak a couple of months ago, with almost 2,500 cases recorded by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). However, the case counts have been steadily declining in the last few weeks. The CDC is still tracking lung injuries related to vaping. It’s reported that most of those with lung diseases have been using e-cigarettes that include THC.
Vitamin E acetate is the main element that’s harming users when it’s inhaled. It’s often used as a THC e-cigarette’s thickening agent. Even though the US market took most of the hit amid this vaping crisis, Canada hasn’t been completely spared. In October, Health Canada confirmed five lung illnesses that were probably related to vaping.
What to expect next?
As per the Alberta cannabis system, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis orders all the cannabis products. However, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis can’t order any cannabis products without the provincial government’s permission. As the Canadian government has already legalized vaping products, the provincial government’s decision will be the deciding factor when it comes to their availability.
Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis’s Heather Holman said, “With regards to Alberta selling vape products and the legalization of additional cannabis products this fall, we are paying close attention to the Tobacco Act review, in particular, to any findings around vaping to ensure regulations are balanced and protect the health and safety of Albertans.”
Even though officials haven’t released a proper timeline, new amendments could be in place at the start of next year. Once the review is complete, it will go to the province’s health minister. Many cannabis retailers expect vaping products to have strong demand in the market and are excited to offer them in their stores.
Other provinces against vaping products
Due to the vaping crisis, provinces other than Alberta have also restricted vaping products. At present, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador don’t permit the sale of cannabis vaping products. Even though vaping-related illnesses haven’t been serious in Canada, these provinces are skeptical. Their ultimate goal is to protect people’s health. Nova Scotia is also restricting the sale of flavored cannabis vapes.
A government official of Newfoundland and Labrador said, “The intent of the decision is to protect the health of the people in this province until there is more evidence about the connection between cannabis vaping products and severe lung disease.”