BY DARA KAM
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Health on Monday ordered a medical-marijuana operator to stop selling a “whole flower” product sold for use in vaporizers but which can easily be smoked, saying the product is not permitted.
Quincy-based Trulieve started selling “Entourage,” a whole flower product meant to be used in the Volcano vaporizer, last week.
Easy to smoke
The department’s cease-and-desist letter to Trulieve came after The News Service of Florida reported about the sales of the whole flower product, which can easily be smoked in pipes, bongs, or joints – all off-limits to patients under Florida’s current medical-marijuana laws.
“Licensed dispensing organizations have a responsibility to ensure their product is not one that can easily be transitioned into a smokable form. Therefore, whole flower products are not permitted,” state Office of Compassionate Use Director Christian Bax wrote to Trulieve on Monday.
Current law bans “smoking” of medical marijuana but includes an exception that allows patients to use vaporizers to consume cannabis products. Smoking is defined as “burning or igniting a substance and inhaling the smoke.”
In a statement, Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said Monday the company was “surprised by the letter” but is “immediately and completely complying with the department’s wishes while evaluating our options.”
Rivers told the News Service last week she believed the product was legal and that her company had been selling whole-flower products for nearly a year.
Lawmakers were unable to reach consensus during the annual legislative session on a measure to implement a voter-approved constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana for a broad swath of patients with debilitating illnesses. But they were in nearly universal agreement on at least one thing: Patients shouldn’t be able to smoke pot products.
John Morgan, the Orlando trial lawyer who largely bankrolled what was known as Amendment 2, has pledged to sue the state over the smoking issue, which he says was tacitly approved in the constitutional amendment approved by more than 71 percent of voters in November.
Patients and advocates maintain that the medicinal effects of whole flower consumption outweigh that of processed products, such as oils or other derivatives, including those inhaled by “vaping.”
But the Department of Health apparently isn’t sold on that argument.