Florida voters approved medical marijuana legislation by a landslide in November of last year, but since then, state lawmakers have done their best to restrict Floridians from actually smoking – by setting up a system that allows vaporizing cannabis but bans combustion. But as you probably know, there are plenty of vaporizers that use the same cannabis bud that we traditionally associate with smoking. For one Florida dispensary, that’s enough of a loophole to start selling whole-plant medicine over the counter as if the regulations were never set.
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Trulieve, one of Florida’s seven medical marijuana providers (which operates three storefronts in Tallahassee, Tampa and Clearwater) has recently started selling canisters of cannabis flower.
“We are very clear with our patients that smoking is currently illegal, under current Florida law, however vaporizing is specifically allowed,” Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said.
But what customers do with their cannabis once they leave the dispensary is up to them, and for the lawmakers that set Florida’s restrictive rules, that’s unacceptable.
“I understand the technical nature of the argument that's being made to you. 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,” State Senator Bill Galvano said.
For Trulieve though, whole-plant cannabis is important for the patients who Rivers says are looking for the “entourage effect,” or a complete cannabis experience, as opposed to extracts or distillates, which contain only the breakdown chosen by the producers, whether it be THC, CBD, or a host of other chemical compounds found in cannabis.
“We feel very strongly that having products available that allow patients to have a choice and to benefit from the entourage effect, also available to physicians to make recommendations to patients, is critical.” Rivers said. “So if that means we're pushing the envelope, we've had a form of whole-flower vaporizer available from the day we've opened. This has always been part of our product line and will continue to be in the future.”
While Trulieve has sold ground cannabis flower for vaporizers in the past, this is the first time they’ve sold weed in bud form.
Only time will tell if Trulieve can continue to operate in the legislative loophole without issue, but for now, there’s a new legal way to get weed in Florida, and what you do with it after you leave the store - well, that’s up to you.