A plan to limit medical marijuana’s potency went up in smoke as the 2019 Legislature moves to conclusion.
Earlier this spring, lawmakers passed a bill and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law, allowing Floridians who have debilitating diseases to smoke medical marijuana. Advocates say the law carries out of the will of Florida voters who overwhelmingly approved a 2016 state constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana.
But later in the legislative session, the Florida House advanced a bill to limit the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the chemical agent that causes the high – to no more than 10 percent in whole-flower products. But the bill (HB 7117) stalled.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried opposed the legislation.
With only days left in the 2019 session, Rep. Ray Rodrigues, the Lee County Republican who supported the 10 percent THC cap, attached the measure to a Department of Health bill (SB 188). Rodrigues said the THC levels need to be limited based on studies showing higher-potency marijuana can lead to psychosis or schizophrenia in some users.
Fried and other medical marijuana advocates said the limit would reduce the drug’s effectiveness, drive up costs and force many users to return to the black market.
On Thursday, the Senate rejected the House’s THC-limit amendment, effectively killing the measure for this year. Medical marijuana industry lobbyists say they don’t expect the THC cap to re-emerge as lawmakers pass their final bills on Friday.
The Legislature will return on Saturday to pass the new $91.1 billion state budget but won’t consider bills that aren’t budget-related.