Florida may have legalized medical cannabis in 2016, but it wasn't until the end of August when the Sunshine State finally — and somewhat discreetly — published guidelines for companies to bring edibles to the state.
Wana Brands, a Boulder, Colo.-based edibles company under the helm of CEO Nancy Whiteman, wasted little time forming a rollout plan with pharma firm AltMed LLC.
The two companies achieved past success in another medical market, and opted to team up in Florida.
"Wana’s partnership with AltMed Florida is an extension of our partnership in Arizona," Whiteman told Benzinga. "Because we have been working with AltMed for years in Arizona—where Wana is the bestselling gummie—we had a high comfort level with competency and integrity of team."
Wana Brands already had this partnership in place back in 2018, betting that as rules changed in each state, it would need assistance in dispensing medical cannabinoids to new markets.
"This was a group that was well known to us already," Whiteman said. "We have just been waiting for the regulatory framework to be implemented."
Other cannabis companies had pre-existing partnerships set up as well, with the idea that Florida would eventually change its stance.
Trulieve Cannabis Corp. TCNNF announced in January 2019 that it had partnered with Binske, a Colorado startup known for a swath of cannabis edibles — chocolate, granola, honey and olive oil — to push products in Florida. Per the Tampa Bay Times, Liberty Health Sciences Inc. LHSIF, Curaleaf Holdings CURLF, and MedMen Enterprises Inc. MMNFF all had partnerships in place in states that already had guidelines in place for edibles.
So when Florida issued new rules (i.e. no product can be mistaken as candy for children), those pre-existing argeements had to evolve.
Now, Whiteman — like others — expects to see an uptick in new Floridian customers/patients who have been sitting out and waiting for edibles.
"I absolutely do expect a surge of new patients who have been waiting for edibles because of our experience in other markets," she said. "Edibles are a popular format with woman and older Americans. Also, with heightened concern about lung health, edibles provide the perfect alternative for consumers who don’t want to smoke or vape."
It remains unclear whether edibles will hurt sales of other products such as oils, flowers and tinctures. When asked if there's any guidance from Wana — research, anecdotal evidence or otherwise — to show this to be the case, Whiteman bets that it won't.
"Our experience with our own suite of products is that edibles will grow the pie rather than cut into another delivery system’s market share," she concluded. "There will be a market share shift because the pie is growing."
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