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Cannabis-infused food and Canadian consumers’ willingness to consider “recreational” cannabis as a food ingredient

Charlebois, Sylvain, Somogyi, Simon, Sterling, Brian
Trends in food science & technology 2018 v.74 pp. 112-118
Canadians, children, demographic statistics, drugs, foods, grocery stores, ingredients, pregnant women, restaurants, risk perception, surveys
At the time of this study, the Canadian government intends to legalize the use of recreational cannabis. Despite its intentions, the regulatory framework remains ambiguous. Food businesses, with their constant search for growth, are considering launching several food products with cannabis as an ingredient, once the drug is legalized. This study does not look at the health effects of cannabis per se, but rather consumers’ perception of cannabis as a food ingredient through the lens of food innovation, if it were to be legalized. It explores several dimensions, including cannabis-infused food products sold in grocery stores and dishes served at restaurants. It evaluates potential times when consumers would consume these products, in addition to their preferred food products. The survey also looks at perceived risks related to specific demographics such as children and pregnant women. The survey assesses both perceived risks and anticipated behaviour in a market in which a former illicit product becomes readily available.The results show that Canadians, although mostly favourable to cannabis's legalization and willing to try cannabis-infused food products, are concerned about health risks the drug represents, especially for young children. Results also suggest that most Canadians do not feel knowledgeable enough to cook with cannabis at home, which opens an opportunity for leaders in the industry. Finally, the study presents limitations and suggested future paths for research.