Floridians, by law, are supposed to be able to smoke medical marijuana if they’re sick.
But now there’s a debate in the Legislature about limiting the potency of the drug.
Some lawmakers are pushing a measure that limits the level of tetrahydrocannabinol – the chemical agent that causes the high – to no more than 10 percent in whole-flower products. It would take effect next January, giving growers time to adjust their products. The THC level of edibles would be capped at 7,000 mg for a 35-day supply, or 200 mg per day.
State Rep. Ray Rodrigues, the Lee County Republican sponsoring the bill, argued that the state needs to limit THC because studies show higher-potency marijuana can lead to psychosis or schizophrenia in some users.
“That’s why we chose the 10 percent,” Rodrigues said. “We’re just following the science.”
But medical-marijuana proponents aren’t convinced.
“This bill is just bad policy,” said Melissa Villars, executive director of the NORML Tallahassee chapter. She said the measure would hike costs for medical-marijuana users and drive many of them to seek the drug on the black market.
Ron Watson, a lobbyist for ALTMed Florida, a medical marijuana company, questioned the 10 percent cap.
“We have a hard time believing that 9.9999 percent is medical and 10.0001 is not,” he said. “We question the line in the sand at that number.”
But Watson said he supports other provisions in the bill, including free identification cards for military veterans who apply for a state identification card and requiring the Department of Health to speed up developing regulations for the industry.
The measure would require children under 18 to get approval from two doctors before they can use any medical marijuana product, including tinctures and edibles.
The Senate doesn’t have a similar bill at this point. But lawmakers say the THC limit could become part of separate legislation that seeks to increase the age for smoking tobacco from 18 to 21 years.
The latest medical-marijuana legislation comes after lawmakers passed a bill and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law last month that allows sick Floridians to smoke medical marijuana.