Florida first approved the use of medical cannabis in 2016. But until recently, edibles remained forbidden. Now, under a rule authored by the Florida Department of Health, dispensaries in the Sunshine State will be permitted to sell marijuana in edible forms. As of August 27, 2020, under Emergency Rule 64ER20-33, “edibles as a route of administration is available to qualified patients” and “If a physician agrees that edibles is an appropriate route of administration, the physician can add edibles to a qualified patient’s already-existing certification.” The new rule, links to which are posted on the Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use (“OMMU”) website, is immediately operable.
While this new revision to Florida’s medical marijuana laws is likely to have a major impact on the market for marijuana in the state, with some industry insiders expecting edible sales to eventually rise to around one-fifth of all sales, it does not represent a major change in the law itself. Under the original legislation enabling the sale of medical marijuana in Florida, the Department of Health was empowered to authorize the sale of edibles. It has only now done so, through an emergency rule. Emergency rules can go into effect immediately, while ordinary regulations go through the notice-and-comment process, but in general, emergency rules can only be implemented for ninety days. However, under Florida’s medical marijuana statute, emergency rules can remain in effect for significantly longer.
But even with approval from the OMMU, it may be some time before edible cannabis is widely available; products will still need approval from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Only a few companies have already gotten approval for the manufacture of edible cannabis products and any company that wants to make edibles will need a permit, which can be up to six hundred and fifty dollars a year. But because the original legislation legalizing medical marijuana contemplated the sale of edibles, it is believed that quite a few companies already have production facilities on-line or nearly ready to start producing edibles in hopes to make millions. One of the companies that has already received approval from the Florida Department of Agriculture to begin the production and sale of edibles, Trulieve Cannabis Corp built a 10,000 square feet kitchen facility before the emergency rule was rolled out. Although several companies have gotten approval to begin the manufacture and production of edible cannabis products, no specific products have been approved for sale yet. The rule does not contain any definite timetables for approval, nor has the OMMU published an anticipated timetable. And of course, no one is sure when producers and manufacturers will be able to seek approval.
Florida law permits the use of medical, but not recreational, use of marijuana, and in keeping with that, both the enabling law and the current regulation contain strict restrictions on the appearance and packaging of edibles. Edibles are not permitted to resemble “commercially available candy,” nor can they be shaped like humans, animals, or cartoons. While producers are allowed to make cannabis products in a variety of forms, including gelatins, powders, chocolates, and baked goods cannot be in bright colors, and must “be produced in a manner to minimize color intensity and other color and visual characteristics attractive to children.” The rule goes as far as to limit the shapes in which edibles can be sold in squares, circles, rectangles, triangles, parallelograms, ovals, and diamonds (including three-dimensional variants of those shapes). You also need an additional certification from your marijuana doctor near me to purchase the edibles. All Natural MD is certified and authorized to issue all form and routes of medical marijuana in Florida including edibles, flower, vape and more. Moreover, the rule’s restrictions exceed those of the bill, banning additives like marshmallows and nougat from chocolate edibles.
Despite these restrictions, experts expect edibles to be a huge part of the marijuana industry in Florida. Estimates of the total value of the market already approach $1 billion, and about $200 Million of that may be eaten up by edibles. One major part of the appeal of edibles is broadening the options for patients. Different methods of ingestion are known to have different effects on particular people and the availability of alternative consumption methods should broaden the efficacy of marijuana as a treatment. Perhaps even more importantly, the use of edibles will allow patients with conditions for which smoking is inadvisable or even outright impossible to obtain the benefits of medical marijuana. For example, a patient with lung cancer might need marijuana to combat nausea related to chemotherapy, but would not want to smoke cannabis flower. A nationwide survey of adult consumers of cannabis consumers suggest that about one-third of consumers generally opt for edibles, but that survey may have been skewed away from edibles because it included consumers in states without legalized and decriminalized marijuana, and it is generally believed that in places where cannabis is illegal, edible products are less widely used. Observers have credited Florida’s rule with being both attentive to best practices from other states and mindful of possible downsides to edibles, such as making marijuana more attractive to minors.