Florida to set rules for edibles

"The law directs the department to create rules related to edible marijuana products and we fully intend on following the law," - DOH Spokeswoman, Mara Gambineri.

One of the state’s cultivators and distributors of medical marijuana is pushing the Florida Department of Health to set rules that would allow thousands of cannabis patients to eat their medicine. Surterra Wellness announced Monday that its Florida affiliate has filed a petition with the state to open up the market to edible products, such as chocolates and cookies.

A bill passed this summer requires that the Department of Health create rules for what kind of shape, form and ingredients will be legal before any of its cultivators can produce and distribute edibles. “This means that no Florida patient will have access to legal marijuana edibles until the Department of Health makes these rules, and they have yet to initiate that on their own,” Surterra said in a Monday press release. “This petition is intended to jump start that process.”

Once edibles rules are in place, current Florida cultivators will need to implement processes to produce them. Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve, one of the state's largest cannabis producers, wants to work with independent contractors to produce edibles. "One of Trulieve big efforts coming into legislative session next year is going to be to hopefully get rid of the provision they put in [Senate bill] 8-A that says the we are prohibited from contracting with other businesses if they directly intersect with dispensing, cultivation, or processing," she said to a full house of entrepreneurs, activists and patients at Florida Cannabis Coalition's Orlando Green Carpet Event in Orlando last month. "We are prohibited from entering into a contract to empower another small business."

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The law bans edible products shaped like animals, humans and cartoons, and prohibits color additives or edibles that resemble “commercially available candy.” But the rest is up to the Department of Health. The petition filed Friday, recommended that the state allow chocolates, lozenges, confections, pills, capsules, and baked goods like brownies, cookies and cupcakes. Commercially manufactured products — an Oreo, for instance — would be allowed only if an edible is created specifically and specially for the use by a state-licensed medical marijuana treatment center.

Mara Gambineri, a department spokeswoman, said the state is “working diligently” to implement the different aspects of the law, which passed in June. The law, she said, “directs the department to create rules related to edible marijuana products and we fully intend on following the law. We remain committed to moving this process forward, and will do so in an expedient and thoughtful manner.”

Many aspiring entrepreneurs are launching edible brands that aren't regulated by the DoH because they don't contain THC. Hemp or CBD edibles are becoming increasingly popular for their wellness benefits and can be found in health food stores all over Florida.

Some have entered the market with the goal of becoming a brand that will later expand, whether through partnership or acquisition, to produce edibles containing THC once the laws change to open the market. "It's absolutely critical for businesses interested in this market to begin building their brand now," said Florida Cannabis Coalition's Pete Sessa.

"This is going to happen and its going to happen fast." For more information on how you can get into the industry, check out a Green Carpet Event in your area.

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