Florida House Passes THC Limit for Medical Marijuana, While Veterans & Senate Express Concerns
In spite of the fact that Florida voters broadly legalized medical marijuana via a constitutional amendment in 2016, in March, the Florida House signed off on a plan that would cap the amount of THC in medical marijuana for anyone under the age of 21 via a voice vote, putting in place a 10 percent limit in order to “protect teens” and their “developing brains.” Many are now concerned that the measure not only violates the constitutional amendment that voters passed, but violates the doctor-patient relationship, turning over to state legislators decisions about dosage that should only be regulated by those who are experts in the field.
The measure would also require all current medical marijuana license holders throughout the state to either start selling medical marijuana products or lose their licenses and create a new testing requirement for smokable marijuana. Still, a number of representatives have remarked that they did not even have time to properly read through the proposal before there was a vote and it was also never vetted by committees, which is the proper protocol for such a measure. The House appears ready to move from a voice vote to an official passage of the bill as soon as possible, while it appears that some Senate leaders are skeptical about the need for any limit whatsoever.
Veterans Warn That THC Limit Would Do Medical Harm
Meanwhile, veterans have been pushing back against the proposal for months, warning Florida House leaders that the measure would be especially harmful to veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the state Board of Medicine, PTSD constituted approximately 26 percent of all medical marijuana patient certifications in 2019, with chronic non-malignant pain being the number one qualifying condition that accounted for almost 34 percent of the diagnoses in the report. Many have safely relied on substituting marijuana for addictive opiate painkillers for years thanks to the amendment, and are now concerned that the measure would cause harm by removing access to safe, legal products and leave a number of people with no choice but to turn to the black market and instead rely on unsafe, untested options.
The proposal also presents a practical issue, as smokable marijuana currently being sold by Florida medical marijuana treatment centers often has a potency of around 30 percent. In 2019, some of these same lawmakers pushed to cap THC in smokable marijuana at 10 percent, but failed in their efforts.
The Senate Goes in A Different Direction
The proposal that was introduced in the Senate would have made two exceptions in terms of capping THC in all forms of medical marijuana for patients under the age of 21: Those who are terminally ill and any patients whose doctors request a waiver from the Department of Health because their doctors believe that they need a higher level of THC. Still, as of early March, the measure appears to have hit a snag in the Senate, and the legislative session is winding down.
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