A Senate committee advanced some caps on delta-9 THC, the intoxicating cannabinoid prevalent in most commercial marijuana, in the event adult-use cannabis is made legal later this year via citizens’ initiative.
The Senate Health Policy Committee’s legislation (SB 7050) would cap THC in flower, such as the type one might use in a pipe or a pre-roll, at 30%. The more onerous cap for the potential industry: a 60% limit on the THC in concentrates. Edibles would not be able to have a potency variance greater than 15%, per an amendment adopted Tuesday.
Members of the public decried the legislation as a “preemptive strike” against the ballot initiative, with one marveling that such a thing could happen in the “Free State of Florida.” But those rhetorical appeals fell on deaf ears.
Supportive Republican Sen. Gayle Harrell warned of the correlation between heavy cannabis use and psychological disorders, including schizophrenia, urging people to read medical journals.
In opposition, Democratic Sen. Tracie Davis noted that the state hadn’t addressed Department of Health directives regarding Black farmers entering the medical market, and in light of that unfinished business, the committee was “putting the cart before the horse.”
“This somewhat forces consumers to decide to smoke more or look at the whole flower marijuana versus not,” Davis said, saying the cap could push consumers into “illegal markets” for more potent product.
Davis’ fellow Democrat, Rosalind Osgood, told her own story of being 13 when she first tried weed, and how she was “wired to be addicted to mood altering substances,” before saying she was down on the bill because of the “process” and her belief voters should have the “opportunity” to weigh in.
Burton noted her desire for a separate market for medical and nonmedical product, and said voters should know “safeguards and regulations for personal use” would be necessary if the citizens’ initiative passes, with “prescription strength” cannabis still available from Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers.
“This doesn’t regulate a lot, but it does provide some clarity on our intention as a Legislature,” Burton said.
The limitations contemplated by the Senate committee measure track to some degree with a parallel bill (HB 1269) in the House, which imposes similar caps on whole flower and the processed product.
This law would take effect 30 days after November’s election, in the event that an amendment to the state constitution authorizing adult personal use of marijuana makes the 2024 ballot and is passed, as legally required, with at least 60% of the vote.
That ballot language is now up for Supreme Court review.
Polling offers contrasting takes about where voters might land on this, if they get a chance to weigh in.
A Mason-Dixon survey suggests the amendment would have 50% support on the ballot, which would ensure it falls short of ratification. However, other measures indicate support well above the 60% threshold for passage. Notably, a poll conducted by the University of North Florida found 70% of Floridians either “strongly” or “somewhat” favor legalizing recreational use for people over 21, with 29% either “strongly” or “somewhat” opposed.
Smart & Safe Florida already has more than a million verified signatures, meeting the threshold needed for ballot inclusion should the Supreme Court back its position. The committee has raised more than $39 million, almost entirely from Trulieve, the leading dispensary chain in the state in terms of number of storefronts.
During his first term, Gov. Ron DeSantis didn’t back caps for the medical product when a proposal was advanced, though that was a 10% THC cap on flower at the time. He has sent mixed signals on cannabis since, voicing objections to the “stench” of legalized weed, but acknowledging he expected the citizens’ initiative to be on the ballot.