Two hundred doctors slammed a THC cap proposal ahead of its advancing in a House committee hearing Thursday.
The bill has now been advanced by two committees, and has one more to go before potentially being considered by the full legislative body.
Sponsored by Rep. Spencer Roach, HB 1455 seeks to limit the levels of the controversial compound to 10% for smokable marijuana and 60% in all other products. The proposal already passed one committee and has proved divisive.
Thursday’s physician phalanx, in a letter presented by advocacy group Florida for Care, blasted the THC cap proposal as a “completely arbitrary restriction on care, with no basis in science, medicine or public health policy.”
Doctors say the THC cap bills have become worse: “While this is the third year that some more of THC caps have been proposed, this year’s bills are worse than in the past, as they now want to CAP all other medical cannabis products (excepting edibles, which are already capped by law) at 60% THC, in addition to limiting a patient’s total allowable amount of THC by milligram every 35 days.”
This goes “against the will” of those who voted for medical marijuana five years ago, passing Amendment 2 in 71% of the vote. As well, the proposal will “only hurt medical marijuana patients.”
The doctors note that “patient satisfaction is through the roof and negative outcomes are exceedingly rare, and rather benign when they do occur. These bills come directly between us and our patients in deciding the best course of treatment for their unique medical needs.”
There have been no cases of “catastrophic outcome” in the medical marijuana program, doctors note. The state now has nearly half a million patients.
The doctors note that the bill would benefit the black market: “illegal, unregulated marijuana sellers” would take over from the current dispensary system should the official product be gutted with the cap.
While the THC cap bill is moving in the House, it is currently stalled in the Senate, where it has yet to get its first committee hearing. Pro-cannabis Judiciary Committee Chairman Jeff Brandes seems disinclined to put the bill on a committee agenda.
Roach’s bill (HB 1455) has started to move, and the sponsor bristles at criticism from the medical community.
“Doctors and patients are taking advantage of our medical program to do two things: Get rich and get high. Period,” Roach said as the bill cleared its first committee.
The potency caps from Roach’s legislation would not apply to terminal patients. The bill would also restrict minors from obtaining anything other than “low-THC” cannabis unless a physician states otherwise and a second concurring physician opinion is received.
The opposition notes that lower THC concentrations will only cause patients to use more product, making them hit their monthly limit sooner.
“If you cut the potency in half, people are just going to take double the amount they take. It is, in my opinion, a very bad idea. But I think the intent is not to have this be a good idea where more people are getting the medicine they need. I think the idea is to drive down sales as much as possible,” House Democratic Co-Leader Evan Jenne said.