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Possession Limits for Cannabis Products

Understanding the difference between Equivalent Amounts, Equivalency Factor, and Cannabinoid Concentration.

How much Cannabis can an adult legally possess?

The Cannabis Act states that adults who are of legal age or older, subject to provincial or territorial restrictions, are legally able to possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public.

It’s easy when buying dry cannabis products. But with the introduction of cannabis products such as edibles, beverages, and concentrates, how to determine how much cannabis products can one person buy altogether? The possession limits in the Cannabis Act are based on dried cannabis, and here’s the Act description about Equivalent Amounts:

In order to know what the possession limit would be for other cannabis products, equivalents were determined. With the exception of cannabis plants, for the purposes of the Cannabis Act, a quantity referred to in column 2 of Schedule 3 in respect of any class of cannabis referred to in column 1 of that Schedule is deemed to be equivalent to 1 g of dried cannabis.


SCHEDULE 3 - (Subsection 2(4), paragraphs 8(1)(a) and (c), subparagraphs 9(1)(a)(i) and (b)(i), paragraphs 51(2)(a) and (c) to (f) and subsection 151(2))

SCHEDULE 3 from the Cannabis Act - 2019

Equivalent Amounts

But what does this really mean? How does one determine how much cannabis products they can legally possess?

One (1) gram of dried cannabis is equal to:

  • 5 grams of fresh cannabis
  • 15 grams of edible product
  • 70 grams of liquid product
  • 0.25 grams of concentrates (solid or liquid)
  • 1 cannabis plant seed

The possession limit for non-medical users is thirty (30) grams of dried cannabis, which is equivalent to:

  • 150 grams of fresh cannabis
  • 450 grams of edible product
  • 2100 grams of liquid product (e.g. oil) 
  • 7.5 grams of concentrates (solid or liquid)
  • 30 cannabis plant seed

Understanding the Equivalency Factor

Different then the Equivalent Amount, the Equivalency Factor depends on the production method, form of supply and the THC/CBD yield. 

When it comes to producing their own cannabis products, the ACMPR declares that patients are responsible for ensuring that they remain within their possession limit by keeping track of how much fresh or dried cannabis is used on the process:

Dividing the amount of the cannabis product you have made (for example, millilitres of oil) by the amount of fresh or dried marijuana you have used will give you an equivalency factor.

For example, if you used 5 grams of dried marijuana to make 10 millilitres of cannabis oil, your equivalency factor is 2 millilitres per gram of dried marijuana:

10 millilitres of oil ÷ 5 grams of dried marijuana = 2 millilitres per gram of dried marijuana

You would use this equivalency factor to make sure that you stay within your possession limit.

For example, if the daily amount recommended by your health care practitioner is 1 gram of dried cannabis, you are allowed to possess no more than 60 millilitres of this cannabis oil:

1 gram a day × 30 days = 30 grams possession limit of dried cannabis

30 grams possession limit × equivalency factor of 2 millilitres per gram = 60 millilitres of cannabis oil

The ACMPR inform patients they also must apply this equivalency factor when using this cannabis oil to produce another product, such as using the oil as an ingredient in food.

Equivalency Factor by Licensed Producer

Under the previous Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, Health Canada had determined that the licensed producers would provide this information on the product label as well on the licensed producer's website. 

The hydropothecary, by Hexo, informs that the Equivalency Factor is in no way a reflection of how much cannabis is used to make their oil. Instead, “is simply a way to determine how much cannabis oil (in millilitres) they can sell to a patient based on their daily dosage of dried cannabis (in grams), as required by Health Canada.” 

They also inform that while every effort is made to ensure consistency of product, cannabinoid percentages/amounts will vary slightly with each lot. They provide an example for their Bedtime oil:

Canabo Medical Clinic, part of Aleafia Health Inc., declares “one of the most confusing issues for medicinal cannabis patients is understanding oil equivalency factors. They admit it’s easy to understand the confusion. The product label informs the patient daily dose in grams but the syringe provided with is in milliliters. On top of that, most licensed producers have a different equivalency factor and supply their oil in different size bottles. 

According to Spectrum Therapeutics, by Canopy, it takes approximately 1 g of dried flowers to produce 4 mL of their cannabis oil. Thus, the equivalency factor is 4:1. Each bottle of oil (40 mL) is equivalent to 10 g of dried flowers. They add it’s important to remember that the equivalency factor is based on the quantity of dried cannabis that is required to produce 1 mL of cannabis oil and does not take into account the concentration of cannabinoids in different products. For this reason, the equivalency factor is not to be used for dosing calculations.

Equivalent Amounts vs Equivalency Factor vs Cannabinoid Concentration

Equivalent Amounts: Fixed conversion table to determine, in grams, how much cannabis products an adult can legally possess in local places - as long as they are not a patient registered under the ACMPR. These amounts have no relation with cannabinoid content or ratio. For cannabis oils, 0.25g is equivalent to 1g of dried flower. 

Equivalency Factor: The weight to volume equivalency expressed as the quantity of cannabis oil in milliliters that is equivalent to one gram of dried cannabis worth of a patient’s monthly prescription. This should not be used to determine how much an adult can buy on a cannabis store, but rather how much a patient registered under the ACMPR can buy, monthly. This number only represents the amount of oil in milliliters equal to 1 gram of cannabis and does not represent the concentration of cannabinoids. 

Cannabinoid Concentration: The amount of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids present in the cannabis oils is determined by the extraction process, the amount of cannabis used and the cannabinoid content of that starting material. For example, let’s observe a cannabis oil made out of a cannabis flower with a potency of 10% THC (on a fully decarboxylated basis).

This means that each gram of cannabis flowers contains 100 mg THC 

 

1 gram = 1000 mg

1000 mg x 0.1 = 100 mg

 

Theoretically, it would be necessary 10 grams of flowers to equal 1000 mg of THC (for a 100% efficient process). For a 20% THC cannabis strain, only 5 grams of flowers would be needed.