Medical marijuana grower pushes Florida to set rules for edibles

Tuesday, 03 October 2017, 04:54:39 AM. Surterra Florida and Alpha Foliage have filed a petition with the Florida Department of Health to force the state to begin the rule-making process for edible cannabis products.

One of the state’s largest cultivators and distributors of medical marijuana is pushing the Florida Department of Health to set rules that would allow thousands of cannabis patients to eat their medicine.

Surterra Wellness announced Monday that its Florida affiliate has filed a petition with the state to open up the market to edible products, such as chocolates and cookies. A bill passed this summer requires that the Department of Health create rules for what kind of shape, form and ingredients will be legal before any of its cultivators can produce and distribute edibles.

“This means that no Florida patient will have access to legal marijuana edibles until the Department of Health makes these rules, and they have yet to initiate that on their own,” Surterra said in a Monday press release. “This petition is intended to jump start that process.”

Following the passage of a constitutional amendment expanding medical marijuana last November, lawmakers required that the Department of Health tightly regulate edible cannabis products. They did this partly because of concerns from opponents of medical marijuana that goodies such as marijuana gummies and candies would be marketed to children. The law bans edible products shaped like animals, humans and cartoons, and prohibits color additives or edibles that resemble “commercially available candy.”

But the rest is up to the Department of Health.

Surterra Florida and Alpha Foliage, which filed the petition Friday, recommended that the state allow chocolates, lozenges, confections, pills, capsules, and baked goods like brownies, cookies and cupcakes. Commercially manufactured products — an Oreo, for instance — would be allowed only if an edible is created specifically and specially for the use by a state-licensed medical marijuana treatment center, such as Alpha Foliage.

Mara Gambineri, a department spokeswoman, said the state is “working diligently” to implement the different aspects of the law, which passed in June. The law, she said, “directs the department to create rules related to edible marijuana products and we fully intend on following the law. We remain committed to moving this process forward, and will do so in an expedient and thoughtful manner.”

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