By DARA KAM | NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA | AUG 27, 2020 AT 5:42 PM
TALLAHASSEE — Animal crackers and gummy bears are off the table, but Florida medical marijuana operators finally will be allowed to make and sell THC-infused cookies, cakes and candies, after state health officials released a rule outlining edible marijuana products.
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.”
The highly anticipated rule came more than three years after state legislators passed a law carrying out the 2016 constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana for a broad swath of Floridians.
The new regulations include a prohibition against products 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.”
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. In part, 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.”
Despite the restrictions, operators celebrated its release.
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.
“We know the demand is there, as we have been hearing from our customers for some time now,” she said.
At least half of Florida medical-marijuana sales come from flower products used for smoking, Rivers estimated. She expects edibles to take up about 20% of the market.
It’s unclear how soon edible products will be on the shelves, however, because health officials have to sign off on cookies, brownies and candies before operators can sell them.
Medical-marijuana operators also need approval from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees food safety and has approved a set of edible-related rules.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s office has authorized four of the state’s medical-marijuana operators, Parallel Florida LLC, Curaleaf, VidaCann and Trulieve, to start manufacturing edible products.
Edibles provide patients another option, Fried said.
“Every single patient is different, as far as how their body reacts to this medicine. Some patients can’t swallow pills. Some may have lung cancer and can’t use flower. So, this is another alternative to so many patients who may need their medicine but need it in alternative forms,” she said.
Article Original Source: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/florida-marijuana/os-ne-medical-marijuana-edibles-20200827-74adazlnrbf63ko3uznj3rfocy-story.html