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Florida steps closer to capping THC in medical marijuana

'Every other medical drug has a cap,' Rep. Robert Andrade says
THC caps smokable.jpg
Posted at 5:25 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 19:54:11-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It’s an attack on medicine… That’s what users and doctors said Tuesday as a House panel advanced THC caps on medical marijuana along party lines.

THC is the stuff that gets users high and Rep. Spencer Roach, a North Fort Myers Republican, thinks the state needs to reign it in.

“We have doctors taking advantage of this medical marijuana program to get rich,” Rep. Roach told lawmakers in the Professions & Public Health Subcommittee. “We have patients who are drug-seeking— taking advantage of this program to get high.”

Roach is sponsoring HB 1455 this session, which would cap smokeable THC levels at 10%. That’s less than what most dispensaries currently offer. Edibles would be limited to 15%. Other cannabis products capped at 60%. Terminal patients are exempt.

“The therapeutic medicinal value of THC hovers around three to four percent,” said Rep. Roach. “We have not only a responsibility to act now but an opportunity to act before it’s too late.”

THC caps aren’t anything new. Some lawmakers have been trying to pass them since the state started allowing smokable medical marijuana in 2019. The opposition was fierce enough to kill both attempts.

That wasn’t the case during Tuesday’s vote, despite concerns from patients and doctors.

“This bill affects cost, creates confusion for patients, and also infringes on comprehensive medical care that I provide to my patients every single day,” said Dr. Sasha Noe, a Florida family physician, speaking to lawmakers during public testimony.

Democrats said the bill’s passage would equate to a new tax for Florida’s nearly 500,000 registered medical marijuana users who would need to buy more products to keep treatment levels the same.

User John Goodson worried the need for more would also have health impacts.

“That’s inhaling more toxins, tar,” said Goodson. “I think this is something that could cause folks to relapse and go back to harder drugs.”

There was some initial hesitancy from Republicans before the vote, but all fell in line to overpower Democrats 12 to 6.

Rep. Robert Andrade, R-Pensacola, felt bringing more regulation to medical marijuana just made sense.

“Every other medical drug has a cap,” he said. “A cap on dosage. A cap on control.”

The bill now faces two more committee hurdles before reaching the full House. But its biggest challenge will likely in the Senate where a similar measure has yet to be scheduled for the committee discussion. Lawmakers there have blocked THC cap legislation for the last two years.

And of course, any measure that gets through both chambers will likely need the governor’s signature to become law. At this point — DeSantis hasn’t given a clear indication of where he stands.