The Legislature’s push to regulate a potential adult-use cannabis market is paused for the moment.
HB 1269 was temporarily postponed in Thursday’s Health and Human Services Committee.
This delay doesn’t mean the bill won’t be heard ever, but it won’t be heard this week.
Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo, the sponsor of the bill, said “we are still tweaking it” when asked about the postponement.
A proposed amendment ahead of the committee ended up not being heard as a result. The proposal was for a 1g limit on THC per vape cart.
This, combined with the 60% cap on THC in concentrates that was already in the bill, would seemingly be a hedge against carts much bigger than 1.5 grams total. In practical terms, bigger carts are more prone to clogging or coil burnout, however, so in one sense the amendment saves future adult-use vendors the trouble of processing returns for faulty hardware.
Massullo told Florida Politics he and Chair Randy Fine “decided collectively” not to run the bill in Thursday’s committee. He added that he doesn’t like “smoking,” and that he doesn’t think vaping is “particularly safe” either.
The bill language equates all forms of THC, meaning the cap is an aggregate cap not on just the delta-9 so effectively monetized by the current Medical Marijuana Treatment Center scheme, but on related isomers such as delta-8, delta-10, THCA and THCV.
However, the language does leave loopholes for HHC and other alt-cannabinoids, suggesting there may be room for creative marketing and chemistry if a citizens’ initiative makes the ballot and at least 60% of voters approve a recreational pot industry later this year
In a previous committee, the bill was amended in favor of stronger flower, limiting the psychoactive compound to a 30% level in pre-rolls and whole buds, well above the 10% level in the original bill that matched the restrictions in cap proposals from previous years.
The Massullo bill contemplates a two-track market that offers incentive for people to retain their medical marijuana cards, which include license removals and medical consultations every seven months, in the context of the citizens’ initiative.
“Currently licensed MMTCs would be eligible to acquire, cultivate, process, manufacture, sell and distribute adult personal use marijuana products if the ballot initiative were to pass. The THC concentration of the products currently offered by MMTCs varies by the route of administration from .4% to 90% THC,” reads language from a bill analysis.
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.
The Senate companion is advancing as Health Policy committee legislation, with a trip to the Fiscal Policy panel before a floor vote. The bills match at this point, though the vape amendment would have created a difference if it had been heard and attached to the House bill.
Massullo said the ultimate goal is to “work with the Senate partners” and make sure Floridians are kept “safe” from the new product, while still “protecting the medical program.”
Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics contributed to this report.