Spencer Roach files THC limits on medical marijuana

medical marijuana
As written, bill would limit THC levels in smoked medical marijuana products.

A new bill filed in the House would cap sum of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, levels in medical marijuana in Florida.

Rep. Spencer Roach, a North Fort Myers Republican, filed legislation (HB 1455) that, along with introducing new regulations on the industry, would restrict prescriptions to low-THC cannabis.

The legislation as written would limit THC to 10% for smokable marijuana, 15% in edibles and 60% in all other products.

Within the industry, caps have been fought by producers of grown marijuana because, unlike extracts, the flower of the plant itself provides the medicine.

“This will be crippling for the medical marijuana industry in Florida,” said Ben Pollara, executive director of Florida For Care.

He described the legislation as worse than similar proposals in the past because, in addition to putting in such low caps on smoked cannabis, this heavily regulated extract as well; the changes in how the cap on edibles in calculated under Roach’s bill are something professionals are still studying.

But Pollara said the typical marijuana plant used for smoked products has about 25% to 30% THC now, while extracts created today are have 80% to 90% THC levels. He noted as far as the extracts used for vaping, the only way to reduce those levels to 60% is to cut the product with other chemicals that dilute the prescriptions.

“The biggest impact is going to be driving the prices up or driving the medical efficacy down, or both,” Pollara said, predicting the end result will be driving many patients to the black market.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, previously a marijuana industry lobbyist, seized on the issue as well, labeling Roach’s legislation “outrageous” and a “new tax on sick and suffering patients across the state.”

Caps have been proposed in the House before but never found much of a reception in the Senate. But that could be different this year.

Sen. Ray Rodrigues, the Estero Republican who carried the original THC caps legislation passed in the House in 2019, now holds a vote in the upper chamber.

Another Representative-turned-Senator, Ana Maria Rodriguez, earlier this week filed legislation (SB 1568) that involves medical marijuana testing and has been listed as a related bill, but for the moment brings no caps on smoked cannabis. Pollara sees that bill clearly as a vehicle for a future amendment rolling the Roach bill in for consideration in the Senate.

Pollara had an op-ed published Saturday by the News-Press, Roach’s and Rodrigues’ hometown newspaper, slamming Rodrigues’ efforts to regulate THC levels.

“It was literally days after newly elected Gov. Ron DeSantis and the legislature, staring down the barrel of near certain loss at the Florida Supreme Court, finally relented and passed a bill allowing smoke — only days later — that Rodrigues filed his first pass at THC caps in smokable marijuana sold at MMTCs in Florida,” Pollara wrote.

“But the legislature must turn off their reefer madness blinders for a second and face facts that THC caps are an egregious tax on patients, no two ways about it. And if there is anything, ANYTHING, that Republicans in the Florida legislature dislike more than sick people smoking marijuana it is new taxes!”

But advocates of the THC caps argued for years government oversight is needed to ensure that medical cannabis doctors don’t create another pill mill crisis.

Roach’s bill also puts limits on how medical cannabis gets advertised, prohibits marijuana testing laboratories from having economic interests in medical marijuana treatment centers and revises supply limits.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


  • Kristy

    February 28, 2021 at 1:13 pm

    “But advocates of the THC caps argued for years government oversight is needed to ensure that medical cannabis doctors don’t create another pill mill crisis.” <– SERIOUSLY??? The people who are making the decisions for the patients need to educate themselves on the science behind the medicine and its interaction within the human body. It'd probably be a good idea to get away from the percentage thinking and educate themselves on the chemical make up of the actual medicine also. Except then I fear they'd want to try to regulate terpenes and flavonoids.

  • Cary Padell

    February 28, 2021 at 3:21 pm

    As a retired Law Enforcement Officer I can say that this will result in people buying their products illegally in the black market in the street. There will be no quality control and The State of Florida will loose a fortune in taxes.

    • Adam

      March 11, 2021 at 7:51 pm

      Yep i know 6 different pot dealers that i could get it from and that’s what i will do if they cap it i have ms anything under 17% gives me very little to no relief i will not pay a dr 300$ and the state 75$ to give me ineffective medicine for my condition this is an attack on sick people in the state of Florida. I vote and I’m a republican i will vote against everyone in my party that i can if this passes.

  • Grace

    February 28, 2021 at 3:53 pm

    Spencer Roach is an idiot… That is all

  • Granny Storm Crow

    March 1, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    So roach wants us to be forced to smoke two or three times as much to get pain relief, when at present, all it takes is a couple of puffs! This sounds a lot like the “We had to destroy the village to save it”! roach wants to destroy our health to save us from a safe herbal medicine! (More people die from aspirin overdoses every year, than cannabis has killed in the last century!)

  • nelson

    March 3, 2021 at 7:12 pm

    I am a republican but next election i will vote this obsolete republicans out, they don’t care about you and me only about money. THE REASON THIS IS HAPENIG IS THAT BIG PHARMA IS LOSING A LOT OF MONEY TO MEDICAL MARIGUANA. and now it got all its minions ( aka republicans) working hard for big pharma and not for you or me. remember well this people next elections

  • Tjb

    March 9, 2021 at 9:26 am

    Stupiid Bill. it only encourage the sales of illegal drugs and create an environment that create more criminals.

  • Jess

    March 10, 2021 at 11:22 am

    Oh how easy it is to blame patients for the opioid crisis. All of these medicines were approved by the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. They failed to regulate from the start. They had many opportunities to fix the issue. Instead they approved even more additive opioid medications. Why? The only thing that the government did was make it hard for the patients who need it and use it as directed. If you have a heart problem you go to a Cardiologist. And so on. If it was required for patients to see a pain management doctor for pain medication we wouldn’t be where we are now. The medication mill would not have been! Instead they approved all these rules that make it hard to obtain for the people that need it. Believe me, if someone is in enough pain they would go to a specialist. So it seems once again they’re interfering. THEY WANT PEOPLE ADDICTED I GUESS. PATIENTS HAVE GONE OFF NARCOTICS FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA. SO WHAT DO THEY DO NOW? IF THEY KEEP INTERFERING THEY WILL PUSH PATIENTS BACK TO NARCOTICS. GOOD PLAN IDIOTS! One can only hope that one day they suffer from constant chronic pain and are shown the same mercy that I’ve been shown!

  • Alex

    March 10, 2021 at 3:59 pm

    Its is funny how this has turned into a political war. What about the terminally ill children and adults that cant take their chemotherapy, do we cap their RSO at 10% seriously. Put people at risk of legal repercussions or danger of getting their medicine illegally. The blood is on Roach’s hands. It sounds like a joke but how did Florida start the mmj program out with only high testing thc products, rasing the tolerance of everybody due to the lack of medicine products with lower thc such as flower, and now they need to cap it. Anyways maybe its time that they stop taking advantage of the mmj patients by over pricing our medicine and always having a very limited availability, maybe its time we all start growing our own medicine, will they really raid all 500,000 mmj patients trying to access their medicine safely? what are the alternatives? what is the end game and how many lives will you have costed Roach? Why is it that for every step we take forward to benefit the lives of people or get a child off of pharmaceuticals, that people like roach want to take it away. I also believe that this is all a strategy to slow down the full legalization of marijuana to milk whats left of the flawed mmj system in Florida. When it becomes recreational the mmj program will die if the prices do not normalize or can compete with recreational prices. Look at colorado, is it really that bad Roach, do you really want families to have to move to get access to proper medication. Some children do not want to be pilled out their entire childhood. Do you know how easy it is for a child to get a xanax perscription and you are worried about the damage marijuana has on the devloping brain, what about children on morphine what does that do to their brain roach. Roach stop the circle jerk your really cringe and you are going to cost lives with your little political war or whatever you want to call it. Democrats vs republican nice, not about the cancer children not about soldiers with PTSD, so you sir, can eat a fat one.

    • Josh Fauteux

      March 10, 2021 at 5:32 pm

      My thought exactly. I am battling cancer and taking RSO and I can barely afford it. Telemedicine consultation with a “qualified physician” (5 to 10 minutes) $200 every six month plus the $75 application fee for the MMC card when in other states you can just walk in in buy whatever you want. It’s always been about money not about the people. People will start buying their products illegally.

Comments are closed.


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