With a push of a button, Floridians can take marijuana and make it into oil and butter, perfect for baking brownies, cakes and syrups.
Garyn Angel calls it “Magical Butter.”
Using a small, coffee-pot-like appliance, people can take marijuana, pair it with butter or any oil or syrup, and voila -- in minutes, edible marijuana is made. The cooking process takes about 90 percent less time than traditional cooking methods, and would allow patients to ingest medical marijuana.
Angel, a Port Richey resident, thought of the machine in 2010. He was sitting with one of his friends who has Crohn’s Disease, when his friend told him how difficult making edibles was turning out to be.
An entrepreneurial Angel decided to act.
“I [thought to myself,] I have to try and help,” he said.
Like that, Magical Butter was born. Over the last seven years, the company has grown by leaps and bounds, with hundreds of thousands of people around the world buying the $175 machines to make their own edibles at home. But under current Florida proposals, edible pot could be outlawed sooner rather than later.
Florida happens to be a big buy for the Magical Butter products -- the Sunshine State ranks second for product sales behind California, with word getting out primarily on places like Facebook and Twitter, but Angel would not disclose how many people are buying the company’s products in the Sunshine State.
“In Florida we do marketing but we don’t do it on a state-specific basis,” Angel told SSN. “It’s 100 percent social-media based.”
Recreational marijuana isn’t legal in Florida, but medical marijuana is one of the fastest-growing industries in the state, and it only stands to get bigger.
Nevertheless, Cannabis advocates like Angel have some hesitation about legislation moving through Florida.
In 2014, the Florida Legislature voted in favor of legalizing a low-THC form of medical marijuana called “Charlotte’s Web,” to be used by epileptic patients searching for relief. In November, 72 percent of Florida voters made their voices heard and said it was time to expand the drug to other conditions -- one step closer to more widespread use of the drug.
For people like Angel, whose business thrives on the use of marijuana, the expansion has been a long time coming. Florida lags behind in legalization efforts.
“We are considerably behind the 8 ball,” he told SSN.
Still, business continues to boom, regardless of whether the drug is fully legalized in Florida.
Laws regulating medical marijuana are already making their way through the Legislature this year, but some proposals like HB 1397, sponsored by Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, would greatly limit distributors of medical pot in Florida -- and edibles, like Magic Butter, would be strictly off limits.
Angel says that’s a problem.
“That bill is terrible,” he said. “It makes no sense. It’s completely and totally in contrast to Amendment 2 and what constituents would have wanted ... It just shows the lack of education and fear of these politicians. They run on fear of not being elected.”
He’s not alone. Others have chimed in with their distaste for Rodrigues’ bill, saying it’s a bad idea for patients and for a healthy business model.
“This bill enshrines the seven cartels and totally closes out any free enterprise people,” said Tom Murphy, founder of St. Petersburg-based Gulf Coast Canna Meds. “There’s nothing more price-gouging than an oligopoly.”
Both Angel and Murphy were encouraged by a wholly different proposal by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, which would scrap current medical pot rules and start the entire system over from scratch.
State lawmakers have just a few months to sort out regulations for the medical pot industry, but Angel says Florida has been incredibly slow on the uptake, well behind other states. The time is now, he said, to act.
“People are disappointed in not just the bills that are proposed, but by the lack of action by elected officials in their own municipalities,” he said.
Angel says he believes state lawmakers are scrambling and failing to create legislation to easily regulate the drug -- and only at their own peril.
“Most people can’t hit a fastball because they’re trying to aim it where it is instead of where it should be,” he said. “If we were aiming where the ball was going to be, we would probably stop striking out as a state.”