It took Florida over 4 years to get Marijuana Edibles
Eating cannabis and hashish is a centuries-old tradition. Hindu ritual describes a milk-drink called “Bhang”, and Arabic ritual involved eating blocks of Hashish or in candies. The Greek physician Galen talked about the benefits of eating cannabis infused pastries.
In 1844 in France, Théophile Gautier founded the “Club des Hashischins” or Hash-eaters club. It was also known as the Breakfast Club and dedicated to the exploration of drug-induced experiences. Members included Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Charles Baudelaire, Gérard de Nerval, and Honoré de Balzac.
The first cannabis brownie was made by Alice B. Toklas, the life partner of Gertrude Stein, which she called, “Haschich Fudge” in the early 1950’s. in the 1980’s and 1990’s a San Fransisco grandmother named Mary Jane Rathbun who went by the name “”Brownie Mary” made weed-laced brownies and gave them out to AIDS patients to help increase their appetite, which boosted the medical cannabis movement. Her multiple arrests, which dared San Francisco courts to convict an old lady giving out those pot brownies to severely ill patients lead to California’s passing of Prop 215, legalizing medical cannabis for the first time in 1996. Now you can find brownie recipes on line from Martha Stewart and Mario Vitale.
But Florida, being neither France nor California, did not readily adopt cannabis edibles readily, even though they were permitted in Amendment 2, which legalized medical cannabis in 2017. The DOH was given 9 months from the beginning of the implementation of the new constitutional amendment to create the rules for production, packaging and sales of edibles. In July of 2017, in anticipation of that upcoming deadline, Surterra wrote the first variance to allow the production of soft-gel edibles, which was put on hold and essentially ignored. The deadline came and went, but no rules were developed. It was not until the legislature in 2018 demanded that those rules be written that the first workshop to develop those rules was called in February of that year. Over the next year, the DOH held 2 workshops and five meetings to discuss the topic. The workshops and meetings seemed productive, but once they were over, the rules still had not been completed.
That left patients to make their own, using oil extracts or making Cannabutter and cannabis oil from flower.
In February of 2020, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services(FDACS), which is in charge of all items for sale in Florida that are part of the Food Chain, published their rules for the production of edibles, including the rules regarding testing. Holly Bell, the director of the cannabis program for the agriculture department, said the big concern was safety from food poisoning and allergen contagion.
But the DOH still did not produce their rules until August 28, 2020, when they were published with almost no fanfare. Many of the MMTC’s did not even have food-grade facilities to produce the edibles, even though they had been described in legislation since 2017. During that time, MMTC’s set up tentative agreements with edible produces from around the country like Binske, Bhang, Love’s Oven and District Edibles (Trulieve), Incredibles (Liberty Health Sciences), Wana (AltMed/MUV).
But the wait was finally over for the DOH to publish the Emergency Rules that would start the new sector of Florida’s cannabis industry.
Trulieve, which had built their 10,000 sq ft edibles facility long before the rules were completed, was the first to offer gummies for sale, followed by cookies. Curaleaf, which had been allowed a variance to sell sublingual lozenges, repackaged them as edibles to jump start their sales. The Parallel Group (Surterra) and VidaCann have also gotten the green light from FDACS to begin production.
The rules were straightforward, contained much of what was discussed in the workshops and meeting and mirrored edible policies in other states.
They sought to prevent the major errors that occurred on the west coast when edible manufacturers found it a great marketing ploy to mimic trademarked products often purchased by kids, including satires and imitations of brands like “Mr. Goodbar” as “Mr. GoodHigh” and Nerd ropes. It had been decided that it was best to make cannabis edibles to have a more generic look, in geometric shapes instead of gummy bears or other kid-friendly shapes.
The term “Edible took the form that was in the statute written in 2017 – Derivative product that is a commercially produced food item made with, or infused with, marijuana oil, but no other form of marijuana, that is produced and dispensed by an MMTC. The term edible includes any derivative product made with, or infused with, marijuana oil, that otherwise meets the definition of “food” in section 500.03, F.S., and complies with the Standards for Production of Edibles rule. The term does not include pills, capsules, tinctures, topicals, and similar usable products.
They must not resemble commercially available candy, and can include baked goods, chocolate, drink powders, lozenges and gelatins. They also can have no toppings of any kind, including sprinkles or icing.
A single serving portion of an edible shall not exceed 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and a multi-serving edible shall not exceed a total of 200 milligrams of THC.
Patients will need their doctors to include the new category of edibles into their current recommendation.
Binske is known for their beautiful graphics on their packages, but you will not see these in Florida. The rules require that the edibles be put into a receptacle that is childproof and resealable and put into a package by the MMTC. Here is what they will look like, per the new rules –
“The receptacle shall not include depictions of the product or any graphics or images other than one image of the MMTC’s department-approved logo and the universal symbol.
The receptacle may include instructions, health information, or warnings and precautions. An MMTC shall not include unsubstantiated claims that the usable product cures any medical condition.
Receptacles for derivative products that are not edibles shall be a single solid color or clear and shall not be neon. Where applicable, the lid of a receptacle shall be the same single solid color or white.
Receptacles and wrapping for edibles shall comply with the following: The receptacle shall be plain, opaque, and white.”
Regardless of how generic and boring the package may be, it is expected that they will bring in a lot of new sales. It is estimated, now that the patient count in Florida is at 400K, that edibles will account for 20% of sales, which may be as much as $250M by 2021, and still not cut into the sale of flower, which now accounts for 50% of all sales.
That’s a whole lot more than a few home-made brownies.