Medical marijuana THC caps advance in House

Florida marijuana law
Critics call this a 'tax' on patients.

Medical marijuana advocates protested to no avail Thursday as a second House committee advanced statutory limits to an active ingredient in the plant medicine.

Legislation that would establish maximum caps for THC levels in Florida’s medical cannabis program is now one step from the House floor, having cleared the second of three committees on a 9-6 vote.

A version of this bill has passed the House before.

However, despite having passed the Health Care Appropriations Committee Thursday, there’s still no certainty THC caps could become law this year regardless of House approval.

The bill (HB 1455), sponsored by Rep. Spencer Roach, would limit the controversial compound levels to 10% for smokable marijuana and 60% for concentrates.

Amendments from Democrats were downed along party lines. Among them were proposals to strike the cap language entirely, expand the dispensary customer base by allowing MMJ license reciprocity for patients from other medical states, and allow renewal every six years rather than one.

“How many emails did you get from people in your district saying ‘please cap THC’?” asked Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith before the first of his two amendments went down.

During debate, Roach conceded the bill would have an “indeterminate negative” impact on the Department of Health’s bottom line. He added that he had not discussed the bill with Health Department officials to get their position on the proposal. He also did not consult doctors on the changes he seeks to implement.

When asked in debate why these changes were necessary ahead of passage, Roach said: “the best available research” showed the proposed “potency limits” were best for pain. Roach disputed that any scientific study existed that showed THC effective at a rate higher than 10%.

“This is not a medical decision. It’s a policy decision,” Roach said, likening his proposal to a “cap on opioids.”

The sponsor said cannabis was a “highly addictive Schedule 1 narcotic” that has not been subject to the “rigorous” Food and Drug Administration approval process.

The legislator also speculated that “we’re headed in the direction where our medical marijuana program is operating as a recreational program” under the guise of a medical scheme. Roach cited a “startling increase” in certifications from doctors who specialize in medical marijuana recommendations to back up his claim.

Roach’s bill has galvanized the industry and patients in opposition, though they seem to have little recourse in a Republican House where Speaker Chris Sprowls is open to caps.

Roach’s bill previously cleared the Professions and Public Health Subcommittee on a party-line 12-6 vote, and party identification was a reliable predictor Thursday as well.

The bill is moving in the House. But there is no momentum in committees in the Senate, despite an eager sponsor and a Senate President open to the conversation. Sen. Ray Rodrigues, who carried the THC caps legislation passed in the House in 2020, now holds a vote in the upper chamber. But pro-cannabis Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff Brandes will not put the bill on his committee agenda.

Members of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee discussed the legislation Thursday on a conference call, with the committee formally taking a position against a cap.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has already gone on record opposing the cap.

The issue does not appear to be a priority for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who removed a prohibition against smokable flower imposed by his predecessor. This was noted by cannabis advocate Rep. Carlos Smith in debate during the amendment process.

The Governor has been mum on the bill at this writing, but he is not signing off on every GOP proposal from the fourth floor.

DeSantis came out against an unpopular proposed restriction on the Bright Futures program Wednesday, and it’s unlikely that he’d want to defend this position heading into a 2022 reelection campaign.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


10 comments

  • Guy Gratton

    March 18, 2021 at 2:44 pm

    Where can we vote to stop HB 1455 – Regulation of Medical Marijuana. I am a long standing resident veteran in Florida that fully opposed politicians in determining the quality of life for its citizens.

    • freedom

      March 18, 2021 at 10:18 pm

      it’s simple. vote against republicans. they are the ones trying to cap. they are also the ones who did not cast 1 single vote in favor of stimulus checks. they are clearly the enemy of the people

    • Libertatus

      March 19, 2021 at 2:37 am

      Guy, we are a Republic, not a democracy. That means that you do not vote directly on things, rather you vote for representatives who vote for you. So what you need to do is get in touch with your Representatives and let them know how you feel, educate them a bit on the issue (because none of them likely have any personal experience) and make it clear (don’t threaten) that they will not get your vote again if they vote in opposition to your wishes.
      Please, do not listen to the ironically named “freedom”. Let the Republicans know your stance on the issue. Generally they are more receptive to voters wishes where democrats vote their own wishes and those of their rich donors and lobbyists. Just like with the stimulus bill “freedom” is bemoaning Republican attempts to stop a bloated pork-fest that enriches democrat donors and collaborators, bails out poorly run fiscally irresponsible blue states, gives out money to foreign countries that hate us, and gives you at most $1400 while costing every single American citizen -man, woman, and child- $5800. Think about it. Democrats want to take $5800 from every person in America (and their grandchildren, actually) and hand them back $1400. I say thank God the Republicans tried to reign in the insanity! Too bad it didn’t work.
      I hope your health and quality of life improves soon! Good luck to you! I will echo your concerns to my Representatives as well.

      • Kek Waffles

        March 19, 2021 at 7:47 am

        Too bad most “representatives” are not taking any calls or responding to questions about the THC cap… I WOULD GLADLY VOTE IN A DIFFERENT REPUBLICAN! Sadly these idiots are too busy fighting party politics and we need real representatives who listen and compromise.

    • Kat

      March 19, 2021 at 9:09 am

      This is not a process where you can vote. We give this privilege to our elected officials. You can call and email (I would do both) your local representative and voice your concerns. Otherwise, we vote them out.

  • John Thomas

    March 19, 2021 at 7:13 am

    From the article:

    >>>”we’re headed in the direction where our medical marijuana program is operating as a recreational program” under the guise of a medical scheme.”

    Yes. That’s the pattern of ending marijuana prohibition in the states. They’re a little nervous about it at first, so they just dip their feet in the water with medical marijuana. They see how the system of legal stores works with no problems, the people, LOGICALLY, choose to be “patients” instead of “criminals,” then the state’s population sees the sky is not falling, so is ready to end all of the fraudulently enacted prohibition.

    What’s wrong with that? Science and widespread experience have shown marijuana has no significant harms. – Hence, every person who chooses near harmless marijuana over addictive, very harmful alcohol, improves their health significantly – as well as the lives of their family and community.

  • Bob

    March 19, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    Are they going to put a cap on the percentage of alcohol allowed in beer, wine and liquor too? How about the amount of nicotine in tobacco?

  • Alexander Ross

    March 19, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    I wonder how many ppl that makes laws drank moonshine or any alcohol??? That too was just like weed until they found a way to tax it…

  • Ron Kirkland

    March 20, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Oh Please! Cap big sugar and cap preservatives in our food? All that chemical white stuff we are fed! Stop folks from becoming diabetic`s and so many stomach issues from FDA approved substances first! Then cap alcohol and nicotine before messing with our medicines! Party line voting nonsense on THC caps on medical marijuana? We The People are very loud and clearly NO Caps!

  • Susan H Kerk

    March 30, 2021 at 7:47 am

    Please, Please do not cap medical marijuana thc. It helps me so much thank you
    Susan H. Kerk R.N.

Comments are closed.


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