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The Florida Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) released long-awaited guidelines for medical marijuana edibles the night of August 26. This is three years after voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana and one year after state lawmakers lifted a ban on smokable medical marijuana. Industry analysts say the addition of edibles to Florida’s medical marijuana market could boost cannabis sales by 20 percent, or $200 million.
Parallel Florida LLC, Curaleaf, VidaCann and Trulieve already have received approval to start manufacturing edible products, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a statement, noting edibles provide patients with “another option.”
Florida’s top marijuana companies have been preparing for this moment for years. They have huge production facilities statewide, and lead the nation in production to serve their nearly 400,000 patients. Under current statute, all companies that will produce or manufacture edibles will be required to obtain an annual food permit, which can cost up to $650.
The emergency rule, posted on the state Department of Health website Wednesday and distributed to industry insiders the same day, requires edible products to be in geometric shapes, bans “icing, sprinkles, or other toppings of any kind” and said the products cannot “bear a reasonable resemblance to commercially available candy.”
Prohibited products include any that “contain any color additives, whether natural or artificial,” mirroring the state law, and restrict products that “are a primary or bright color.”
The emergency rule also dictates that “edibles shall be produced in a manner to minimize color intensity and other color and visual characteristics attractive to children.”
Below are some other restrictions for the edibles:
- Can’t bear any markings, symbols, images, graphics, or words, other than the universal symbol to mark edibles.
- Can’t be “decorated with icing, sprinkles or other toppings of any kind.”
- Can’t be a primary or bright color.
The 2017 law gave the Department of Health authority to “determine by rule any shapes, forms, and ingredients allowed and prohibited for edibles” to discourage consumption of the products by children. The law said the products may not be “manufactured in the shape of humans, cartoons, or animals; be manufactured in a form that bears any reasonable resemblance to products available for consumption as commercially available candy; or contain any color additives.”
Quincy-based Trulieve Cannabis Corp., the state’s largest medical-marijuana operator, built a 10,000-square-foot commercial-grade kitchen facility in anticipation of the rule. Edibles will “contribute to a sizable share of overall sales,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers predicted.
Trulieve has been able to operate and apparently thrive. Recently, the company reported $120.8 million in revenue, experiencing a 26 percent jump for the second quarter. This is all thanks to cannabis being deemed an essential business during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Companies throughout the United States have come together to help sell these approved 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. Liberty Health Sciences similarly announced in 2018 that they were partnering with Incredibles, another cannabis confectionery.
It is not yet known those products will be available to the general public for use.
Florida’s medical marijuana industry continues to grow since it was legalized in 2016. The state has more than 399,253 registered patients and 270 licensed dispensaries as of Aug. 21, according to the Florida Department of Health. That’s up from 255,256 qualified patients and 153 dispensaries on August 16, 2019.
Central Florida has roughly 41 medical marijuana dispensaries as of Friday, August 28.
William is the Managing Editor at FloridaInsider.com. His years of experience in journalism, broadcasting and multimedia include roles as a Writer and Web Producer. He graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Science and Communication.