A Florida bill would limit the THC percentage in smokeable medical marijuana, and would make it harder for sick children to obtain the medicine, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
The legislation was introduced by Representative Ray Rodrigues, who is the Chairman for the House Health and Human Services Committee. The measure would also set limits on the potency of medical marijuana in edibles and would fast-track the state health department’s rule making for the medical marijuana industry, which was legalized by voters in 2016.
“While the House bill would set what many consider a low cap of 10 percent on the level of THC in whole-flower products for smoking, the daily amount of THC that would be permitted in edible products — 7,000 mg for a 35-day supply, or 200 mg per day — is much higher than what most patients would consume, according to industry experts”, reports the Sentinel.
Critics blasted the House proposal as an attempt to “essentially gut” the Legislature’s recent repeal of a ban on smokable medical marijuana.
Ben Pollara, the campaign manager for the political committee that led efforts to pass the 2016 constitutional amendment, called the House’s latest approach ironic.
The proposal “basically acts as a tax on patients” by causing them to spend more money to “buy more marijuana to achieve the same effect as if the caps were not in place,” Pollara said Tuesday.
“The other irony is it would result in patients having to smoke more marijuana to achieve the desired effect,” he said. “If there’s two things the Florida House hates, it’s higher taxes and smokable marijuana, and this has the functional impact of doing both.”
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana that produces a euphoric effect. Levels of THC in plants grown by medical marijuana operators average about 20 percent or more, growers in Florida said.
The Senate also has a version of the bill, but Sen.atorJeff Brandes said Tuesday he believes the proposal will be merged with a bill (SB 1618) that would increase the minimum tobacco-smoking age in Florida from 18 to 21. The legislation is a priority of Senator David Simmons, an Altamonte Springs Republican who is a top lieutenant of President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.
Under current law, children under age 18 must get two doctors to approve cannabis as a treatment. For smokable marijuana, the second doctor must also be a board-certified pediatrician. The House proposal, however, would require a second opinion from a board-certified pediatrician for all forms of ingestion, including tinctures or oils, for patients under 18.
“Youth use is something that they certainly seemed to be concerned about. It seems as though the Legislature is crafting laws in order to make cannabis available but as a treatment of last resort for minors,” Christian Bax, the former director of the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use, told the News Service. The switch would make it virtually impossible for many sick children to get access to anything other than low-THC cannabis, said Moriah Barnhart of the group “CannaMoms.” Barnhart’s 8-year-old daughter, Dahlia, was diagnosed with brain cancer as a 2-year-old, she said.