It’s been four years since Florida voters signed off on a law legalizing medical marijuana, but cannabis patients in the Sunshine State have been unable to receive treatment in the form of edibles—until now.
The Florida Department of Health published new emergency rules on Wednesday evening that clear the way for the state’s medical marijuana industry to sell edible cannabis products. According to local television station WESH, the new rules allow licensed marijuana dispensaries in the state to “produce and sell THC-infused edible products like brownies and candy.” The edibles must be “lozenges, baked goods, gelatins, chocolates or drink powders,” the outlet reported.
Florida’s medical marijuana law was approved overwhelmingly by the state’s voters in 2016, with more than 70 percent supporting the proposal. But the law was beset with limitations. It wasn’t until last year that smokable medical marijuana was made available to Florida patients. That came after the state’s governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, signed a bill making smokeables legal.
“Over 70 percent of Florida voters approved medical marijuana in 2016,” DeSantis said in a tweet at the time. “I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for working with me to ensure the will of the voters is upheld.”
With The Change Comes Restrictions
The rule changes unveiled by the Florida Department of Health, which go into effect immediately, represent another expansion to the four-year-old law.
The Miami Herald noted that there are stipulations to the new rules, which are similar to provisions in other states. “the edibles cannot have primary or bright colors in order to minimize attraction to children, must not resemble any commercially available candy and must be packaged appropriately.”
The Herald also reported that many dispensaries in the state have anticipated this reform, and have thus “already partnered with companies throughout the United States to bring [edibles] into the Florida market.”
“Florida’s largest medical marijuana company, Trulieve, announced in 2018 that it had partnered with Binske, a high-end Colorado company that boasts its cannabis chocolate, granola bars, fruit leather, honey, olive oil and even French-inspired Pâté de Fruit candies,” the Herald reported. “Liberty Health Sciences similarly announced in 2018 that it was partnering with Incredibles, another cannabis confectionery. Other companies like Curaleaf, MedMen and MUV are all established in states that already have guidelines in place for edibles, so it is probably they will bring existing partners into Florida dispensaries.”
There have, however, been other efforts to rein in certain parts of the medical marijuana program. Earlier this year, a bill introduced by Republican state Sen. Gayle Harrell sought to place a 10% THC limit on medical marijuana products given to patients under the age of 21.
“I have been very concerned about this,” Harrell said. “You’re seeing increasing percentages of THC in marijuana. This is not your granddaddy’s marijuana from the ‘60s.”
Industry representatives were staunchly opposed to the proposal, and the bill eventually fizzled out when legislatures decided to pull it out of a healthcare bill.
“Are they banning Oxycontin levels to people 21 and under? Are they banning Percocet or Xanax?” said John Morgan, a Florida attorney who was one of the 2016 medical marijuana initiative’s biggest boosters. “The opioid epidemic was created on the backs of our children.”