Editor’s note: Revised with clarification of Governor’s position, reflecting his concerns with cannabis today but backing away from the THC caps proposal.
Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested today’s medical marijuana may be too strong, with rhetoric seemingly bolstering a proposal currently in the Legislature. But he also says he’s not moving on it, showing the policy line a GOP Governor walks on cannabis issues.
Monday in Tallahassee, during a media availability with CFO Jimmy Patronis and legislative leaders, DeSantis told reporters that today’s cannabis hits different than the more innocent variants of bygone times.
“If you look at some of the stuff that’s now coming down, there’s a lot of really bad things in it. It’s not necessarily what you would’ve had 30 years ago when someone’s in college and they’re doing something. You have some really, really bad stuff in there, so I think having the ability to identify that, I think, that’s safety, and quite frankly when you get into some of that stuff, it’s not medicinal at that point for sure,” DeSantis said, in response to a reporter’s question.
Despite those concerns, DeSantis said he is not backing a THC cap.
“I have not endorsed that. That is not something I’m pushing. I’ve talked with Chris about it and it’s not something I’m endorsing,” DeSantis said.
Concerns notwithstanding, that may end the issue for the foreseeable future.
The legislation would cap THC at 10% in flower, a level below that which would be therapeutic for many of the state’s 500,000 medical patients. Concentrates would be capped at 60%, a number below current levels. The bill language offers no clarity as to what filler would be added to the product.
The Governor’s statement may not change the bill’s trajectory. It is moving in the House, but it is stalled in the Senate. Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Brandes says THC caps are a non-starter, and he has not scheduled the bill for a hearing.
The version of the bill in the House, sponsored by Rep. Spencer Roach, has survived two committee stops so far and awaits its final committee of reference to hear it.
The issue may come into play in the Governor’s reelection campaign with potential opponent Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried a proponent of the cannabis sector.
Fried, a Democrat, said last week that DeSantis has been “silent on this issue.”
“I don’t know what the Governor will do if the bill passes,” she said, noting that “horse-trading” often happens at the end of the Legislative Session.
Fried added that if DeSantis signed the bill imposing THC caps, he would be a “one-term Governor” and that Republicans would lose seats if the bill moving in the House became law.
DeSantis allowed smokable cannabis in 2019, a move that set him apart from former Gov. Rick Scott on the issue. But the move toward potential THC caps would have been more hard line than anything contemplated by the previous administration, noted for its slow-walk implementation of the constitutional amendment allowing medical cannabis, passed in 2016.