Health officials in Tallahassee, Florida, have released a highly expected rule setting THC dosage amounts and supply limitations on products physicians can request for medical-cannabis patients.
The emergency rule establishes a 70-day total supply limit of 24,500 mg of THC for non-smokable marijuana. It sets dosage caps for different routes of administration, such as edibles, inhalation, and tinctures.
The rule, emailed to physicians and patients at the end of August, went into effect earlier this week. It also imposes a state law that sets a 2.5-ounce limit on smokable cannabis purchases over 35 days.
Although the rule lays out limitations for THC in non-smokable products, the limit for flowers and other smokeable products is based on weight. Rather than on the amount of THC present. THC is the euphoria-inducing component of marijuana and one of many cannabinoids found in the plant.
The emergency ordinance institutes a process for physicians seeking an override for patients they believe need to exceed the limits. The law does not specify a way for patients or doctors to appeal denied requests.
The dosing and supply caps come more than five years after Floridians voted in favor of medical marijuana legalization and almost 4 years after the Legislature started allowing smokable cannabis.
In the initial framework for the medical-marijuana program, lawmakers gave the Department of Health the power to use emergency rules to frame ordinances. By definition, the establishment of Emergency rules does not require public input, as is mandated for non-emergency regulations.
The new rule is not without controversy, especially from patients and doctors who feel like they would have preferred to comment on the regulation.
The law establishes a 70-day supply limit for various forms of consumption and a comparable daily dose for capsules. Patient THC doses are capped at:
- 60mg for edibles
- 350mg for vaporization
- 200mg for capsules and tinctures
- 190mg for sublingual tinctures
- 190 mg for suppositories
- 150 mg for topical medicine (such as balms and lotions.)
Industry professionals predict that limits on dosage and products will make marijuana medicine more costly for Floridians, who prefer bargain shopping when purchasing products.
Because cannabis remains illegal under federal law, patients must front the costs for all doctor visits and products, which may become an issue as many patients in Florida are retired or on fixed incomes.
Dosage limitations could also make it a challenge for patients who might purchase products that aren't as effective to be able to buy replacement products within the 70-day window.
The Office of Medical Marijuana Use has provided patients with instructional guides and calculators to help them determine how much they have purchased, how much they can buy, and renewal dates for orders.
Floridians are now facing these new limits just after the launch of a ballot initiative to legalize the adult-use marijuana for adults 21 and older. Trulieve, the state's biggest medical-marijuana company, contributed $5 million in seed money to get the initiative aimed for the 2024 ballot rolling.