A vape pen in use. (Photo via OpenVape)

Florida dispensary says new flower product doesn’t violate smoking ban

Update, May 16, 2017, 8:05 a.m.: Florida Health Dept. bans sale of whole-flower vaporizer cup

Update, May 15, 2017 at 8:08 p.m. The following corrected information has been added to this article: Because of a reporting error by The Associated Press, a previous version of this story misstated the Department of Health’s stance on the product, which was not approved by the department.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida medical marijuana dispensary says it is not violating state law by selling cannabis that could potentially be broken down and made into pot that can be smoked.

Trulieve began selling its first whole-flower cannabis product earlier this week that is meant for vaping. The buds in the vaporizer cup, however, could be also be used in joints, pipes or bongs.

Vaping is allowed under state law but smoking is prohibited. Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers said the company has issued warnings to patients that the product should only be used for vaping.

Department of Health spokeswoman Mara Gambinieri said all products must be approved by the Office of Compassionate Use. However, they have not approved this particular product and are looking into it. Gambinieri added that dispensaries are held to the product descriptions made in applications.

All six of Florida’s distributing organizations that are authorized to sell cannabis have vaping products. Trulieve is the first that is selling a whole-flower product. Other vaping products use cannabis that is ground up.

According to the Department of Health, 80 percent of cannabis sales are vaping.

Medical marijuana supporters have advocated for whole-flower use because of what is called the entourage effect, which means all the various compounds are working together instead of separately.

With two months remaining until rules for medical marijuana Amendment 2 are supposed to be enacted, whether or not smoking will be permitted remains one of many issues that needs to be sorted out by the Legislature or Department of Health.

The Legislature wants to ban smoking but John Morgan, the Orlando attorney who was one of the key figures in getting the amendment passed last November, said he would sue if the new rules did not allow smoking. The rules are supposed to be in place in July and implemented in October.

“For them not to allow smoking, that is the opposite of what the amendment says. The only place where it says it can’t be smoked is public places,” he said.

Sen. Rob Bradley, a Republican from Orange Park, said the Legislature opposes smoking because it is an unhealthy act.

The Legislature is considering holding a special session to complete work on a rules bill that collapsed the last week of session. If they don’t, the Department of Health would write the rules.