The OMMU (Office of Medical Marijuana Use) through the Florida Department of Health approved the dispensary sale of medical marijuana in edible form in 2020.  In the ensuing months  dispensary shelves have filled with various forms of edibles: chocolates, cookies, brownies and gummies.  At this point in time, not all dispensaries have all the various edible types but it is only a matter of time before a plethora of edible products are available.  As with any product, it is important to know if your edible product is Indica, Sativa or hybrid. 

 The Florida Department of Health requires that all edibles comply with all traditional food standards and additionally:

      Have the universal symbol that marks the product as cannabis:  <THC>

      Limitations on shape (for example, can’t look like an animal).

      Types allowed:  baked goods, chocolate, drink powders, gelatin (gummies).

       Restrictions on color additives, icing, sprinkles and other decorative toppings.

 These limitations are similar to those of other cannabis legal states.

 How is ingesting cannabis different? 

 First, the time from ingesting to full cannabis effect is up to two hours, whereas the effect is almost immediate with smoking and vaping and takes about 20-30 minutes with tinctures.  And not all edibles are equal as far as onset and duration.  Simple foods such as gelatin (gummies) take only 30-45 minutes for the full effect to take place and do not last as long as more complex foods such as chocolate and baked goods.  The next difference which sets edibles aside is that  after absorption in the stomach and  intestinal tract, the cannabinoids pass through the liver and are converted there to an 11-hydroxy form of THC, which has an effect known as a ”body high.”  However, keep in mind that the ingested form is usually as psychoactive as the other forms of administration.  There are also rare  individuals who get no effect from edibles. 

The final distinction of edibles is their long duration.  Smoking, vaping and tinctures last approximately 3 to 5 hours, whereas edibles can last as long as 6 to 12 hours, depending on dose.   And remember that gummies do not last as long as more complex foods.  With edibles, if you don’t know your dose, start with a low dose (perhaps 2mg of THC)  and increase only after 2 hours, if needed.

 Why use edible cannabis?

 Some of the advantages include: 

  1. No need to inhale.  Some patients do not want to smoke or vap.
  2. Longer lasting effect.
  3. Some patients feel that the 11-hydroxy form of cannabinoids (from a pass through the liver which does not occur with smoking, vaping or tinctures). are more effective for them. 

Edibles are a welcome addition to Florida dispensaries and provide another option for medical marijuana patients.

Disclaimer:  This is the opinion solely of the author and does not represent legal advice. 

David G. Balter MD
Medical Marijuana Doctor