Classification of edible cannabis

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Difference between cannabis extracts and edible cannabis

The classification of cannabis is based on the definitions set out in the Cannabis Act and the Cannabis Regulations. Subsection 1(1) of the Regulations defines both edible cannabis and cannabis extracts.

Edible cannabis

Cannabis extract

The definition of a cannabis extract specifically mentions that it doesn't include edible cannabis. Cannabis products intended to be consumed in the same manner as food are edible cannabis and therefore excluded from the definition of a cannabis extract.

What factors determine if cannabis is edible cannabis

Health Canada considers several factors when determining whether cannabis is intended to be consumed in the same manner as food including, but not limited to the factors below.

Product format

A cannabis product that is in a food format is generally considered to be intended to be consumed in the same manner as food and should be classified as edible cannabis. Examples of food formats can include:

For additional guidance, you may refer to the Classification of products at the food-natural health product interface: products in food format.

Note: How a product is dispensed, measured or packaged also affects if it's in a food format.

The fact that cannabis meets the requirements for child-resistant packaging doesn't influence whether something is in a food format, as all cannabis products are required to have child-resistant packaging under the regulations.

History of use

A product that, if it didn't contain cannabis, has a history of use mostly for a food purpose, is another factor to be considered in the classification as edible cannabis. This includes products historically consumed as a source of nutrition or energy or to satisfy hunger, thirst or a desire for taste, texture or flavour. For example, jellies, chews and gummies have an established history of use for a food purpose and are generally classified as edible cannabis.

Note: Cannabis and product formats that have an established history of use for medical purposes may be less likely to be classified as edible cannabis. For example:

However, the representation, physical and sensory characteristics and product format need to be considered to ensure they align with the history of use.

Product sensory and physical characteristics

A cannabis product that has sensory or physical characteristics that the public perceives as food is another factor to be considered in the classification of edible cannabis. These can include:

Product representation

A cannabis product that's represented as, or for use in, a food or drink is generally considered to be a product intended to be consumed in the same manner as food and should be classified as edible cannabis. For example, this can include the product's:

What licence holders should do

Licence holders should verify if their cannabis products are classified correctly. Licence holders are encouraged to review the definitions of, and requirements for, cannabis and cannabis products in the Guide on composition requirements for cannabis products and Packaging and labelling guide for cannabis products.

It's always the regulated party's responsibility to take appropriate and timely action to meet all requirements of the Cannabis Act and its regulations. In cases of non-compliance, Health Canada's preference is for regulated parties to voluntarily undertake actions to come into compliance. However, Health Canada may take enforcement measures to address non-compliance or mitigate risks to public health or public safety. Refer to the Compliance and enforcement policy for the Cannabis Act for more information.

It's ultimately the responsibility of those engaging in activities related to cannabis, cannabis accessories and services related to cannabis, such as their promotion, packaging, labelling or sale, to understand and comply with the act and its regulations and any other federal and provincial or territorial legislation that may apply to them or to their activities, and to seek legal counsel to that end if necessary.

Licence holders are reminded of their obligations to report serious adverse reactions to cannabis products and to prepare an annual summary report of all adverse reactions as per section 248.1 of the regulations.

For further questions, contact us by email at


This compliance promotion statement is provided to support compliance with regulatory requirements set out in the Cannabis Act and Regulations. It isn't intended to provide legal advice regarding the interpretation or application of the Cannabis Act and its associated regulations. The reader is encouraged to consult the Cannabis Act and applicable regulations carefully and in their entirety. In the event of any discrepancy between the legislation and this document, the legislation shall prevail. The reader is also encouraged to consult any other legislation that may apply to them or their activities, such as any applicable federal, provincial or territorial legislation.

Health Canada reserves the right to modify this document as appropriate and without notice.

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