MARYLAND LEAF (DECEMBER 2021)
FINALLY, THE EDIBLES HAVE ARRIVED
On January, 12, 2022, all eyes will once again turn to Annapolis and the General Assembly where the eternally hopeful Cannabis-consuming residents of Maryland will wait expectantly as legislators wrestle with the question, “Will this be the year?” Will this be the year that the Maryland General Assembly and the Governor finally agree to do what the residents of the State of Maryland have asked them to do for years now, and legalize Cannabis (in all its forms) for adult use and recreational purposes? And when will the State finally end the War on Cannabis, free its prisoners, and reconcile with its many victims?
But while we wait for the tea leaves to settle, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (“Commission”) has been diligently pursuing its mission developing the policies, procedures, guidelines, and regulations making medical cannabis available to qualifying patients in a safe and effective manner. In April 2021, the Commission fulfilled one of its initial promises to patients when it issued its final regulations creating the framework for edibles products in Maryland dispensaries.
Effective April 19, 2021, any “medical cannabis product intended for human consumption by oral ingestion . . . that dissolve[s] or disintegrate[s] in the mouth,” will be recognized as a Cannabis product and subject to regulation. These new regulations finally fill the product void that has existed since Maryland’s dispensaries first opened. This is great news for Cannabis patients in Maryland, as it will mean more products, more categories of products, and more ways to experience the benefits of the medicine. Let me explain.
One of the weaknesses of Maryland’s medical Cannabis program has been the lack of availability of edible products containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Some edibles had been previously available in dispensaries prior to the enactment of these new rules. Those products were poorly made and packaged. Now all edible products previously on the market in dispensaries must come into compliance within 90 days. And all edible products offered for sale in dispensaries must be approved and overseen by the MMCC.
Edibles can be an important tool for health care workers, caregivers, and others to provide a patient with a convenient, effective, reliable, safe, therapeutic, and measured dose. These new final regulations for edibles provide processors with the market specifications about how to create, label, prepare, and sell these products at licensed dispensaries in the State. For the typical patient, this will mean that at the dispensary level you will see more products containing THC with a wider variety of dosage forms, while providing patients with more choices in how they want to administer their medicine.
Now that the edibles product category is available in Maryland, patients can enjoy a commercially produced, regulated, and standardized dosage of THC that has been tested, certified, and packaged by the State. In addition, the THC comes delivered in a variety of edible forms such as tinctures, pills, sublingual strips, or gummies; in child-proof packaging, in geometric shapes (not characters), and in packaging designed to warn parents and children about its contents.
As more edible dosage forms become available, more patients will be able to experience the therapeutic benefits of the plant without harmful routes of administration. For example, smoking or vaporizing THC is the most popular way that Marijuana is ingested by patients. But what if smoking or vaporizing isn’t possible for a patient due to their location in a hospital. Or worse, is unsafe for a patient at all due to their respiratory condition? This is where the new class of edible THC products provide superior relief for chronic conditions. By offering a wide variety of routes of administration and standardized doses, edibles can offer a broad spectrum of relief for patients.
The good news is that the Commission is now encouraging Maryland’s medical Cannabis Processors to produce edibles containing THC. This means that patients can now purchase at their local dispensary pre-measured doses of THC with better labeling, in child proof packaging, with warning labels, and produced by commercial, good manufacturing processes, that supposedly won’t be confused for kids vitamins. For patients, these regulations will result in a greater variety of products at your local dispensary catering to an increasingly sophisticated medical patient clientele.