Business

Florida Legalizes Edibles, Opening Huge New Market

By Hilary Corrigan Aug 27, 2020
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Florida cannabis regulators Thursday issued rules to allow edibles in MED dispensaries, opening a huge new market for the fast-growing product category.

The new rules implemented by the state health department’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU) took effect Thursday. The state has nearly 400,000 MED patients, according to OMMU. OMMU did not reply to questions and the reasons for the change are unclear.

The rules specify shapes for edibles—circle, diamond, triangle, for instance—and forms, including lozenges, baked goods and chocolates. They also specify that edibles shouldn’t resemble familiar candy that people, especially children, could mistake them for. They can’t have sprinkles or bright colors, for instance.

The change is “definitely a welcome one,” said Phillis Campbell, Managing Partner of OMNI Medical Services which offers doctors and clinics for MED patients. OMNI also operates in states like Michigan and Ohio, where edibles are already legal. But Florida has had more conservative rules. “Now we’ll be on par with the other states,” Campbell said. The organization has about 3,000 patients in Florida, including a large number of senior citizens.

Campbell noted that many patients—especially senior citizens—prefer edibles. When they visit other states, they get to enjoy gummies, for instance, but haven’t been able to get them when they return to Florida. For some, edibles mark their first experience with cannabis.

“Our patients find great relief and prefer the edibles,” she said. “They’re going to be thrilled.”

For Florida patients, doctors have to specify each patient’s dose amounts and administration routes, like inhalation. So OMNI will add edibles on a case-by-case basis if patients want the option. 

“I’ve been contacting patients all day, letting them know that edibles are available,” Campbell said. She recalls patients’ response when Florida allowed inhalation as an administration route last year. “The phones were ringing incessantly.” She anticipates a similar response from the state’s huge senior population.

Campbell has also been checking with dispensaries about edibles’ availability so she can let patients know where to get them. She expects if stores don’t have them now, they will by the weekend.

“Well-positioned”

The news did not appear to take vertically-integrated Trulieve Cannabis Corp. by surprise. In a Thursday press release, Trulieve, which has a dominant market position in the state, said it plans to introduce edibles in its dispensaries across the state, giving patients “access to the types of products they have been requesting for years.”

Trulieve has planned for edibles in Florida, building a 10,000-square-foot commercial-grade kitchen at its production facility in Quincy, outside Tallahassee in the state’s northwest panhandle. The company will produce products there and test new offerings. Trulieve has also partnered with specialty edible brands—Binske, Bhang, District Edibles and Love’s Oven—to add cookies, brownies and other goods.

“We expect that edibles will contribute a sizable share of overall sales,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers stated in the press release. Rivers recalled a similar expectation when flower was introduced last year. Previously, the state allowed vaping, oils, sprays and pills. Trulieve reported second quarter revenue of $120.8M and just opened a 57th dispensary in Florida.

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