Florida is such a weird place – the legal marijuana there is not for smoking.
Yes, Florida lawmakers, with a straight face, have prohibited the state’s medical cannabis patients from smoking the medicine they currently receive from one of the state’s seven licensed marijuana producers.
So it was only a matter of time before one of them had a stroke of genius and began offering their patients marijuana in pure, unadulterated (and smokeable) whole flower form — but not for smoking… officially.
But if you were to smoke some…
Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana last in November. Their reward for also helping Donald Trump to the White House has been the political limbo in which the state’s potential $1 billion cannabis industry has since been lost.
State lawmakers had a limited time window to craft rules for how cannabis would be grown and sold; a last-minute squabble over how many retail licenses would be issued (and ergo, how much competition there would be) was too much drama for lawmakers, who adjourned their legislative session with the cannabis question unanswered.
In the meantime, sick people in Florida can access legal weed via one of the seven existing companies approved in 2014 and last year to cultivate and distribute low-and-no-THC weed: varieties with THC, more producers and much wider access were supposed to be part of the new rules.
That weed is legally supposed to be vaporized, not smoked. As a result, it has been sold in canisters, cartridges and other formats that don’t lend themselves to being rolled up, tucked behind an ear and passed around.
But on Tuesday, one of the state’s providers — Truelieve — began offering whole flower for sale, along with the caveat (with all the sincerity of a head shop informing you that these, ahem, decorative water pipes are for tobacco only, ahem) that thee flowers are not for smoking.
But they could be…
Kim Rivers, Trulieve’s CEO, has a legitimate reason for selling whole flowers: They are more medicinal. After all, the extraction process often removes cannabinoids from the final product as well as much of cannabis’s flavorful, aromatic terpenes, which recent studies have shown may have as much to do with cannabis’s final effect as cannabinoid ratios.
“Whole-leaf products are critical for patients seeking the ‘entourage effect’ that results from consumption of whole-flower marijuana,” she said. “As opposed to processed cannabis products, such as oils or other derivatives.”
She’s right, you know. At the same time, some lawmakers are none too pleased about being outfoxed.
“I understand the technical nature of the argument that’s being made to you,” said state Sen. Bill Galvano, who is slated to become the next state Senate president, in an interview with Tallahassee.com. “But if the net result was the retail sale of marijuana that could be put into a rolling paper or any other apparatus, that was not the intent. In fact, the intent was to prevent that from happening.”
It’s as of yet unclear if there will be any blowback over Trulieve’s clever move — or if the other six competing marijuana companies will get wise and follow suit.