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Medical Marijuana Update: Trulieve’s Edible Deal and Lawmakers Debate Smokeable Cannabis

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Christian Simmons / WMFE
The Florida Channel
Gov. Ron DeSantis at a press conference in Winter Park in January announced a change in the state's approach to smokable medical marijuana.

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 productsin Florida from Colorado company Love’s Oven. This comes a month after they inked a similar dealwith 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.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.