After voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in Florida in 2016, the Republican controlled Legislature has now decided to lay out plans to change the rules. This after close to 600,000 patient have already begun the program.
The legislative proposal would place a 10 percent cap on THC for smokable marijuana and limit THC levels to 60 percent on concentrates. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive component of marijuana that gets you high. The bill would also limit patients to 15,000 milligrams of THC every 35 days.
The bills, filed by Rep. Spencer Roach, D-North Fort Myers, and Sen. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, would also impose advertising restrictions on doctors who order cannabis for their patients. Currently, about twenty five hundred of the state’s roughly one hundred thousand Florida medical marijuana doctors have completed the required training allowing them to recommend medical marijuana for qualified patients in Florida. Previously, Nikki Fried, the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, said that placing a cap on medical marijuana’s THC content, it could force medical marijuana card holders to seek alternatives on the black market. Medical marijuana operators and industry advocates are decrying the proposed THC limits. Fried, a former cannabis lobbyist, also said the proposed caps “are outrageous” in many emails and social media postings.
Historically, the idea of THC caps stretches back to 2016, when cannabis prohibitionists have failed to stop adult-use legalization, attempted to commend a statewide initiative to limit THC potency to 15%.
That effort failed to make the ballot, but the idea survived. In 2019, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), then chair of the US Senate banking committee, indicated he was considering a 2% THC cap on cannabis products produced or sold by businesses that want secure financial services under the SAFE Banking Act, which is still in motion. Such a cap would render the SAFE Banking Act all but useless, as most cannabis products contain far more than 2% THC.
Crapo’s arguments for the cap were similar to those being expressed by Cornyn and Feinstein in the caucus report earlier this week: THC-related impaired driving, and the “harmful effects of THC use during pregnancy and on young developing brains.” Crapo offered no evidence indicating that a THC cap would lead to lower usage levels by pregnant women or minors.
It is impossible to fatally overdose from ingesting too much THC. High concentrations have shown adverse effects in some people, including increased anxiety and nausea. It is widely accepted both within the cannabis community and beyond that cannabis use can be harmful to developing brains. In legal US states, access to cannabis has been limited to those 21 and older in adult-use markets.
If this bill passes, it would require patients to smoke twice as much and pay twice as much for the same result!
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