The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Advisory Board recently debated and voted on what, at least to the ears of a stoner, sounds like a waste of taxpayer money: whether edibles are legal based on whether you chomp, swallow, or let it sit (no sexual jokes are included in this article).
In Pennsylvania, the legality of edibles all comes down to how much you chew it, basically rendering rules down to the movement of one’s teeth and the amount of spit present.
Cannabis that dissolves in the mouth is deemed legal, but if it’s designed to be chewed, then you’re in trouble.
While pills, oils, tinctures, and extracts infused with cannabis are considered legal in the state, chewable forms are not. So, basically, a sublingual tincture is fine, but a nice chewy gummy is not. What comes to mind when you read the word “edible,” such as chocolates, are illegal. If it can pass as a tincture, it’s allowed.
The seemingly minor but apparently quite important issue was raised by board member and patient advocate Diana Briggs, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Briggs brought it up over concern regarding a newer cannabis-infused product called a troche, pronounced “TROW-key,” which she said one could find across Pennsylvania dispensaries. She said they were “like a cough drop, some are hard, some are softer.” Troche flavors include the typical range, such as pineapple, raspberry, lemon, and strawberry. Apparently, these are causing confusion because no one can figure out if they count as an edible or dissolvable.
“These troches are here, and they’ve been here for a year. These look very much like what I’ve bought in other states as an edible,” Briggs says.
Pennsylvainia could do away with the red tape and confusion by amending the laws to include edibles.
But before Pennsylvania gets there, the companies that produce and sell troches are quick to assert that their products do not count as edibles. For instance, Vytal Options operates medical marijuana dispensaries in Harrisburg, Lancaster, and Lansdale. They’re one of the first to offer troches to Pennsylvania, as reminded by CEO Tom Trite. The company describes their troches as gelatin-based, slightly firmer in texture than Jello, and explicitly designed to dissolve either under the tongue or between the cheek and gum, making them legal under current law.
Trite, a pharmacist, continues: “They are not edibles.” He further explained that, for some individuals, the effects of troches can come on even more swiftly than those associated with vaping. To emphasize the distinction, he pointed out, “The issue with gummies is that they are easily chewable.”
While legalizing edibles would allow everyone to use their energy for anything else other than bicker over chewing, authorities aren’t ready to drop this just yet.
Sharing his apprehensions and falling back on the safe narrative of concern over children’s safety, Royce Engler, the Chief of Police in Wright Township and a board member, expressed concerns about edibles getting into the hands of kids.
“We have reservations about endorsing edibles, as they might end up in the wrong hands,” he said. “And honestly, users often do not store their product in the packaging in which they purchased it. It might be against the law, but it’s a common occurrence on a daily basis,” Engler added.
Generally, most cannabis users would agree that the argument about kids thinking edibles are candy and eating a truckload is an overplayed danger weaponized by social conservatives. Unfortunately, sometimes it does happen, like this five-year-old who ate Delta-8 edibles last Halloween, although that does prove that even if you criminalize Delta-9, the kids are never entirely safe. Boo.
In the final tally, the motion to propose amendments to the law fell short of the necessary support, resulting in six abstentions, three dissenting votes, and two affirmative votes.
In July, two Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 846 to legalize adult-use cannabis. The bill currently waits for review from the Senate Law and Justice Committee for further deliberation.
Additionally, along with other medical marijuana reform, a bill from Republican Senator Dan Laughlin, Senate Bill 538, would also legalize cannabis edibles for use by medical marijuana patients. It also requires edibles to be tested for safety and potency, and ensures that packaging protects it from children.
Laughlin said he was prompted to draft the legislation after learning that residents of his district were visiting a nearby Indian reservation in New York to get their edibles.
“Constituents drive up there and, quite frankly, I don’t know who’s manufacturing those products. I don’t know if they’re being tested for potency or anything really,” Laughlin said. “From my standpoint, passing a bill like this is not only convenience for my medical patients who live in my district but also for their safety.”
The board is set to reconvene in November.