Florida's dispensaries can now offer “Marijuana Infused edibles.” But what are edibles and why would you want them?
Cannabis-infused edibles are now available in Florida
Florida Edible Rules
What are edibles and how are they used
How cannabis ingested affects the human body
Medical conditions for which edibles present the ideal delivery method
Different types of edibles allowed in Florida.
How and where to buy THC and CBD infused edibles
Correct dosage for edibles
Florida now permits the sale of cannabis-infused edibles
When Florida’s medical marijuana program went into effect in 2016, edibles were not on the menu. Nor were smokable forms of cannabis such as dried flower or cannabis concentrates (eg. hash, wax, etc.), although smokables were later added to the menu of legal products.
However, the Florida Department of Health recently instituted new rules for edible marijuana products. The bottom line, as far as patients are concerned, is that edibles can now legally be sold in all Florida medical marijuana dispensaries.
As the name would imply, edibles are, well, edible products that contain some of the active compounds produced in cannabis.
So what’s so special about edibles? Why are some patients so happy that edibles are now available at Florida dispensaries? What’s in them? And what are they good for? Why would a patient choose edibles over other forms of medical cannabis?
These are not simple questions to answer. Once you do a deep dive into medicinal cannabis, you realize that it’s not a simple herbal medicine. It’s a highly complex plant with an entourage of active compounds.
Let’s face it. There are thousands of Florida medical marijuana “patients” who are carrying what you might refer to as a CYA card. They’re not really sick. They just want the legal protections and access to “pot” that the card affords them.
But that’s not you. You’re anything but a “stoner.” In fact, for years, you probably brushed off the medical marijuana craze as just a fad or a way for advocates to keep moving their cannabis legalization agenda forward.
As time went on, however, you began to realize that maybe there is something to this medical cannabis thing. Maybe it could help to end or reduce some of your suffering or that of someone you love and you’d like to give it a try.
But before you willy nilly grab a cannabis product off the shelf, there are some important things that you should know about medical marijuana. So before we do a deep dive on edibles, let’s cover some basic information that you should understand if you’re thinking of becoming a medical marijuana patient now that edibles are available in Florida.
Florida Edible Rules
The proposed regulations for marijuana edibles were posted to the Florida Administrative Code in mid-March 2020. After some haggling over the rules, including the establishment of a reliable testing infrastructure, edibles were given the green light on August 26th.
According to the finalized rules:
Edibles may be produced in the form of baked goods, candy, chocolate, drink powders, etc.
To minimize attraction to children, edibles in Florida cannot be produced in primary or bright colors.
The use of natural or artificial colors is prohibited.
Edibles may not be produced in any shapes other than simple geometric shapes such as a square, circle, rectangle, triangle, etc.
Products may not bear any markings, symbols, images, graphics, or words.
Products may not be decorated with icing, sprinkles, or other toppings of any kind.
Edibles must not resemble any commercially available candy.
Medicinal edibles must be appropriately packaged.
Packages must bear the universal THC symbol.
Packages must list the amount of cannabinoids in the product.
A single serving of an edible may not exceed 10 milligrams of THC, and a multi-serving edible cannot exceed a total of 200 milligrams THC.
Edibles manufacturers must obtain a Florida food preparation permit.
What’s in cannabis?
The resinous flowers of the female cannabis plant produce a family of compounds known appropriately as cannabinoids. Most people these days are familiar with these potent medicinal molecules, or at least with two of them.
You’ve probably heard about cannabidiol, or CBD — the non-intoxicating component of cannabis that can be purchased over the counter in the form of CBD oil, or CBD-infused gummy bears and so forth. You probably know that CBD was legalized along with the cultivation and sale of hemp products. (Hemp being cultivars of cannabis that contain less than 0.3 percent THC.) Although hemp is essentially THC-free, whereas marijuana, on the other hand, often contains both THC and CBD.
THC, aka delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, has had a much higher profile than CBD over the years. THC is the cannabinoid found in medical marijuana that gets you high when consumed in sufficient quantities.
CBD, on the other hand, does not induce the infamous marijuana buzz. In fact, it’s believed that CBD somewhat “tames” the THC and mitigates intoxication to some extent.
But are they both the same medicinally speaking? Aside from the buzz, do CBD and THC have the same effects on the human body? Do you really need a Florida medical marijuana card? Can you just substitute CBD oil for medical marijuana and get the same relief without the buzz?
The answer is, “maybe.” But then again maybe not.
You see, CBD and THC interact with two totally different sets of receptors within the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). While hemp-derived CBD alone might work for some patients in some cases, it’s not going to be the case for everyone. The same goes for THC. Most patients benefit most from some combination of the two cannabinoids.
Without getting into too much detail here, the basic difference between THC and CBD is that THC interacts with what are known as CB1 receptors. And CBD mainly interacts with what are called CB2 receptors.
CB1 receptors are found on the surface of neurons in the brain. Hence the psychotropic effects. CB2 receptors are found in the other major organs of the human body.
Cannabinoid receptors normally interact with cannabinoids produced naturally by the human body. These self-produced cannabinoids are known as endocannabinoids.
As it turns out, phytocannabinoids — those produced in cannabis — have the ability to mimic the effects of our own endocannabinoids to some extent. This is why they affect our physical health.
Cannabinoids also interact with other sets of receptors found in the human body such as opioid receptors, vanillin receptors, and others. And via mechanisms we won’t get into, they can also act as anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, antivirals, antibiotics, antifungals, and so forth.
THC and CBD are not the only cannabinoids found in medical marijuana. There are a few other minor cannabinoids, such as cannabigerol, or CBG, and others. CBG has become popular as of late.
Then there are other forms of THC such as delta-8 THC which has similar properties with less intoxicating effects.
And, furthermore, each cannabinoid comes in two varieties — the raw “acidic” forms such as CBDA and THCA (the “A” stands for acid) that are found in the original plant, and also the cooked, smoked or vaped forms without the “A.” Interestingly, THCA, the raw form of THC, does not cause intoxication.
Today cannabis edibles come in a variety of formulations including THC-only, CBD-only, and various ratios of CBD to THC.
However, cannabinoids are not the end of it. There’s more to the story.
What are terpenes?
An entirely separate set of compounds known as terpenes are also produced in cannabis flowers. There are scores of terpenes. Each has its own unique scent. In fact, terpenes are what give cannabis its distinctive aroma.
And terpenes also provide potent medicinal benefits. Some can help relieve pain, some can reduce anxiety, or help you sleep, or influence your appetite and on and on.
In fact, terpenes — the main component in essential oils and incense — have been used for millennia in a healing modality known as aromatherapy. These volatile oils are so potent that, although terpene content is measured in parts-per-million, the mere whiff of a particular terpene can change your physical and mental states.
We’re not going to get into each of the terpenes found in cannabis in this article, but let it suffice to say that choosing which terpenes to consume is just as important as choosing which cannabinoids to consume.
What is a strain?
So how do you know which cannabinoids and terpenes are right for you? How do you know which of them will knock out your symptoms? And how do you get only those cannabinoids and terpenes that are good for you, personally, and not all the other varieties?
The answer is “strains.” There are hundreds of different strains of cannabis — both hemp and marijuana strains — each cultivated to produce a unique set of cannabinoids and terpenes in order to treat a particular condition. This combined effect of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in a strain is often referred to as the entourage effect.
Find the right strain and you find relief. Consume the wrong strain with the wrong set of terpenes, and you’re looking at some potentially unwanted side effects.
For this reason, you can’t just purchase any cannabis product and expect the strain du jour to be entirely effective and free of unwanted side effects.
When you visit a Florida medical marijuana dispensary you’ll often — hopefully — find a menu of products made from different strains, each with its own ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Any experienced “budtender” — the folks behind the counter in a marijuana dispensary — should be able to tell you which strain works best for your condition. Many certified Florida medical marijuana doctors are also very knowledgeable about the benefits of various cannabis strains.
What is an isolate?
Each of these cannabinoids and terpenes can be purified to produce what are known as isolates. For example CBD isolate contains 99.9 percent pure CBD. Same goes for THC.
Unlike terpenes, cannabinoid isolates are odorless and colorless. This makes them ideal for use in some topical preparations for folks that don’t want to smell like weed, or for use in edibles and drinks if you don’t want to affect their flavor.
Isolates are also desirable for patients that wish to avoid consuming terpenes. Some people might have allergies to certain terpenes, for example.
What do full-spectrum and broad-spectrum mean?
Florida edibles come in a few different varieties. In addition to products infused with just isolates, there are what are known as full-spectrum formulations and broad-spectrum formulations.
Full-spectrum refers to a product that contains the entourage of cannabinoids and terpenes found in the original strain. Broad-spectrum, on the other hand, refers to products that contain cannabinoid isolates mixed with a particular set of terpenes designed to produce a particular effect.
So What are cannabis edibles?
The term “edibles” refers to any food product that has been infused with cannabinoids and also possibly terpenes.
Edibles come in a variety of forms. The most commonly found are:
Candies – gummy candy, hard candy, chocolate, etc.
Baked goods – brownies, cookies, granola, etc.
Beverages – sodas, non-carbonated beverages, coffee, tea, etc.
Oils – vegetable oils such as coconut oil
Each of these products has its own particular benefits which we’ll get into shortly.
Edibles have been growing in popularity as recreational and medical cannabis gain legal status in a number of states.
Colorado’s legal dispensaries report that edible cannabis products make up a whopping 45 percent of their sales. A nationally representative study of legal-aged cannabis users showed that almost 30 percent of the subjects had ingested marijuana in beverage or edible forms. And a 2019 study revealed that 25 percent of Canadian cannabis users preferred edibles.
What are the benefits of cannabis edibles?
So, why would a medical marijuana patient want to choose edibles over smoking, vaping, tinctures, creams, etc.? There are a number of very valid reasons, actually.
Some benefits of edibles over smokables include:
Edibles do not come with health risks attributed to smoking and vaping.
Edibles are more convenient and discreet.
The effects of edibles are more relaxing and calming.
The effects of edibles are more potent and longer lasting.
Dosages are more accurate and easier to measure and manage.
No need for expensive paraphernalia (vape pens, pipes, papers).
What medical conditions are best treated with cannabis edibles?
All cannabinoids end up being systemic — meaning that they enter your bloodstream and circulate through your entire body. However, delivering cannabinoids to the exact point of injury or inflammation can increase their effectiveness.
What this means is that edibles can be used to treat the same conditions as other forms of medical marijuana whether they be mental (eg. anxiety, depression, etc.) or physical (eg. pain, inflammation, etc.).
However, the niche in which edibles are truly ideal is in treating conditions of the stomach, intestines, and colon. This is because the cannabinoids and terpenes can be delivered directly to the point of inflammation.
The type of edible cannabis product one should choose depends on which condition is being treated.
For example, gummies, hard candy, chocolate, and beverages are ideal for conditions of the stomach, itself, because they melt immediately delivering their contents to the stomach.
And baked goods are better for conditions of the intestines and colon. This is because these edibles contain fiber and therefore take longer to digest. The cannabinoids can make their way further along in the digestive system.
Treating Crohn’s disease, colitis, IBS, etc. with edibles
Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease that severely affects the intestinal tract. Autoimmune conditions cause the body’s own immune system to attack the lining of the intestines causing sometimes severe inflammation. This inflammation can cause digestive difficulties and often result in chronic or acute pain.
The highest concentration of CB2 receptors in the human body is found in the intestines. Recall that CB2 receptors have an affinity for CBD rather than THC. Therefore, products high in CBD are best for treating gastrointestinal inflammation. However, THC is also known to increase appetite and aid in digestion. A strain that is higher in CBD than THC is ideal.
Treating other medical conditions with THC and CBD infused edibles
Although edibles are ideal for gastrointestinal issues, they can also be used to treat just about any other condition that can benefit from medical cannabis.
Some of the medical conditions being treated with cannabis edibles include:
In addition to this list, a physician may approve a medical marijuana application for any other condition which they feel can be successfully and safely treated with cannabis.
The only case where edibles might not be as desirable is in treating sudden onset psychological conditions such as panic attacks and PTSD. In these cases, smoking, vaping, or even tinctures might be a better choice because of their fast onset time.
What is the correct dosage for edibles?
So, how much edible cannabis should you consume? There is no correct answer here as it depends highly on your physical condition, what it is you’re treating, your size and gender, and the makeup of your specific endocannabinoid system. We’re all different.
Most edible cannabis products list the amounts of cannabinoids per serving. For example, a piece of candy might contain 5 or 10 milligrams of THC and/or CBD, or it might contain far more. Some products such as brownies and candy bars may contain multiple servings. Patients need to be aware of this and dose accordingly to avoid having an unpleasant experience.
Because edibles are slower to take effect, it’s not extremely uncommon for patients to over do it and end up having an unpleasant experience. Don’t make this mistake. It can take from 30 to 90 minutes for the psychoactive effects to kick in. The peak effects might take 2-4 hours to be fully realized. Onset time can be influenced by many factors, including the type of product (eg. candy vs. baked goods), a patient’s gender, eating habits, weight, and metabolism.
Patients should also be aware that candies will take effect much faster than baked goods. When consuming baked goods, it’s best to start with small bites. Then wait at least one hour to gauge the effects. If more is needed take another small bite. Over time, by “listening” to your body, an ideal dosage can be determined.
It’s a good idea to start small when ingesting edibles. For smaller people it’s advisable to start with 5 milligrams, or 10 milligrams for larger people, and then work your way up until you feel relief.
Keep in mind that edibles are more potent than smokable products. The Colorado Department of Revenue commissioned a report utilizing the findings of a clinical study. It indicated that 1mg of THC in an edible product creates similar effects to 5.7 mg of THC in smokable marijuana.
When eaten, enzymes convert delta-9 THC into 11-hydroxy tetrahydrocannabinol, or 11-OH-THC, which is a far more powerful psychoactive compound than THC. This explains why edibles often seem more potent and have a longer lasting effect than smoked of vaped cannabis.
In most cases, somewhere between 10 and 100 milligrams of THC and CBD combined should be enough to provide relief. However, if you’re dealing with a serious condition such as cancer or seizures you might need more. Definitely seek a qualified medical marijuana doctor’s advice in this case.
Also keep in mind that more is not necessarily better in every case. Cannabinoids produce what’s known as a bell curve effect. That means that there is an ideal dosage above and below which the effects fall off. Taking more than you need can be a waste of money and might produce unwanted side effects such as extreme intoxication.
At this time, there are no universal standards in place for THC dosage. The California Department of Public Health stipulates that single dose servings shall not exceed 100 milligrams of THC. Similar guidelines are in place in Colorado, Washington and Canada. Furthermore, 100 milligrams of THC might be far too much for some patients — especially those new to cannabinoid therapy.
There is also a practice known as microdosing which involves taking very small amounts of THC on a daily basis. If CBD seems to effectively treat a condition, adding small amounts of THC — say, less than 5 milligrams a day — might actually increase the effects without causing intoxication.
Due to various factors, there can be some inaccuracy in labeling. The manner in which products are stored and handled, and inconsistency in quality control during production can cause discrepancies between the dosage listed on the label and that actually contained in the product.
Where to buy marijuana edibles products in Florida
A number of large production facilities throughout Florida have been preparing for this launch of edibles.
- Trulieve operates the largest number of dispensaries in Florida and is responsible for more than 50 percent of the state’s share of marijuana sales.
- Surterra is Florida based and carries the Jimmy Buffet line, Coral Reefer.
- Curaleaf is one of the largest multi-state cannabis chains in the country.
- AltMed MuV is based in Sarasota Florida and operates only in Florida.
- Columbia Care is based in New York but the company has been beefing up its Florida operations in recent months.
How to get a medical marijuana card for edibles in Florida
The best place to start if you’re trying to get a Florida medical marijuana card is with a certified marijuana doctor. A quick call with a qualified doctor clinic representative can help you determine if you are eligible for a Florida medical marijuana card and what you’ll need to provide to be approved for a card.
While you’ll initially need to see a medical marijuana doctor in person to be approved, follow up appointments can be done via telemedicine — either via phone or video conference.
Are you ready to get a medical card for Florida edibles or is it renewal time?
For Florida residents, if your ready, we make it easy to connect with a certified recommending doctor to get your Florida MedCard.
If you have a qualifying condition, or general medical condition that may qualify and want to get certified for medical marijuana, simply fill out the MMJ patient registration form and press submit. A doctor representative will contact you to schedule an appointment. Legal Residents Only