Monday, February 18News That Matters

Medical Marijuana Update: Trulieve's Edible Deal And Lawmakers Debate Smokeable Cannabis – WMFE


Gov. Ron DeSantis at a press conference in Winter Park in January announced a change in the state’s approach to smokable medical marijuana. Photo: Christian Simmons, WMFE
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Gov. Ron DeSantis at a press conference in Winter Park in January announced a change in the state’s approach to smokable medical marijuana. Photo: Christian Simmons, WMFE

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It’s turning into an interesting week for medical marijuana in Florida: Growers are working on deals to get edibles in the state, while lawmakers are again taking up the issue of smoking medical cannabis.

Lawmakers in Tallahassee have advanced a bill that would allow smokeable medical marijuana. Governor Ron DeSantis announced his support for smokeable medical marijuana in Orlando last month – giving lawmakers until March 15th to get a bill to his desk that would legalize the therapy.

If they don’t, DeSantis said he will drop the state’s opposition to a lawsuit filed by Orlando Attorney John Morgan. A judge agreed with Morgan that a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016 does allow for smoking medical cannabis.

A bill that would allow smoking medical marijuana did clear its first committee last month – but not without major changes. The measure would require two doctors to agree smoking is the only way the patient should get medical marijuana. The changes approved Tuesday would allow smoking in hospice situations.

The latest version also allows smoking devices like bongs and pipes to be sold at medical marijuana treatment centers, but does not require patients to purchase them solely from retail centers. The Florida House would require smokeable marijuana to be sold in pre-rolled joints.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana company Trulieve announced it has signed a deal to sell edible  products in Florida from Colorado company Love’s Oven. This comes a month after they inked a similar deal with Binske, another Colorado company.

Florida lawmakers approved edibles in 2018, but the Florida Department of Health has not set out the rules for patients. Richard Blau is a partner with the GrayRobinson law firm, and he specializes in heavily regulated industries like medical marijuana.

Victoria Walker is the head of marketing for Trulieve. She said the deal will allow the company to sell products with Love’s Oven branding.

“And a partnership in their expertise in making edibles. In Florida, we’re a vertical medical marijuana system, which means everything we sell in our stores has to be produced in Florida.”

Walker says the partnership with out-of-state edibles will allow the company to get products to patients quicker once rules are in place.

He said Trulieve’s move could be a brinksmanship strategy to get medical marijuana patients to put pressure on lawmakers.

“And there’s the pressure that we were talking about to move decision makers that would ultimately get the job done, whether it’s a ruling or getting a policy in place or getting agreement between the governor and the Legislature,” Blau said.

More than 70 percent of Florida voters approved medical marijuana in 2016. Multiple lawsuits currently challenge how the Legislature has implemented the amendment.

As of last week, there were more than 182,000 medical marijuana patients in Florida.

WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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