Smokable medical marijuana is now legal in Florida, but state agency slow to OK sales

Frank Gluck
Smokable medical marijuana is now legal in Florida, but state agency slow to OK sales

FORT MYERS, Fla. – One day after Gov. Ron DeSantis formally lifted a ban on smokable medical marijuana in Florida, shops continued to wait for formal approval to sell it.

At a Sarasota dispensary owned by Trulieve, which was expected Tuesday to make the first sales in Florida, patients hoping to buy smokable cannabis flower left empty-handed.

Annie McDermott, 42, who suffers from fibromyalgia and other illnesses, uses cannabis to treat chronic pain. McDermott, of Venice, had previously been prescribed opioid painkillers that, she said, led to a 10-year addiction and increasing dependence.

For her legal medical marijuana, she has been consuming it with a vaporizing device, similar to an e-cigarette, that was already legal under Florida law. But, she said, it has been a ridiculous restriction.

“It’s nonsense, utter nonsense, that I have to spend a fortune on a vape that burns my throat when I can easily just roll up a joint and be perfectly fine," McDermott said.

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Trulieve in Venice waited all day to sell the cannabis flower to their customers. The okay never came in but Trulieve CEO, Kim Rivers, showed some of the products they have available today. She feels by the morning they will have word the they can sell their cannabis flower. Their products work to alleviate seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms, pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and other symptoms associated with serious medical conditions such as cancer. Low-THC/CBD products are available for patients who need non-euphoric care.

More than 71 percent of Florida voters supported a constitutional amendment broadly legalizing medical marijuana in the state. Despite that, then-Gov. Rick Scott and other state GOP lawmakers pushed through restrictions on how it may be consumed.

That led to a high-profile legal effort to reverse that action.

DeSantis, also a Republican, signaled shortly after his election that he would lift the ban. He has also moved to dismiss the legal case. 

A cartridge for a vape peTrulieve in Venice waited all day to sell the cannabis flower to their customers. The okay never came in but Trulieve CEO, Kim Rivers, showed some of the products they have available today. She feels buy the morning they will have word the they can sell their cannabis flower. Their products work to alleviate seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms, pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and other symptoms associated with serious medical conditions such as cancer. Low-THC/CBD products are available for patients who need non-euphoric care.

John Morgan, the Orlando attorney who largely bankrolled the 2016 legalization effort and called on the state to lift the smoking ban, tweeted last week: "We did it! Thank you for sticking with me, thank you for voting, and I want to thank @GovRonDeSantis for believing in the will of the people!"

Though Florida lawmakers have now effectively reversed that ban, the state Department of Health oversees the sales of any such products and must approve the procedures for doing so.

That had been expected to happen Tuesday morning but had not as of early Tuesday night.

No credit cards will be accepted. There is an ATM machine or a clients can use the app CanPay. A loadable app that can be used to buy the different forms of CBD and cannabis flower. Their products work to alleviate seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms, pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and other symptoms associated with serious medical conditions such as cancer. Low-THC/CBD products are available for patients who need non-euphoric care.

Kim Rivers, the CEO of Trulieve, did not elaborate on the delay, saying only that the company is “anxiously awaiting” approval.

Rivers said that, once it happens, smokable cannabis will likely become a significant part of her business. She said data from other states shows that smokable products make up 40 percent to 60 percent of sales.

“It’s early to tell how the market is going to shake out,” Rivers said. “But we do know for sure that there are patients who have a very strong preference for a natural type product.”

Follow Frank Gluck on Twitter: @FrankGluck

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Smokable medical marijuana is now legal in Florida, but state agency slow to OK sales