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Opponents Call THC Cap 'Bad Policy'

Don Ryan
AP Photo

Last month Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that allowed medical marijuana flower to be sold in Florida. Now a sponsor of that bill is trying to cap the potency levels of marijuana sold at treatment centers, and also waive license fees for veterans. Opponents say it’s a double-edged sword. 

This bill would limit the amount of thc that an MMTC may dispense for dried leaves of marijuana to 10% thc," said Rep. Ray Rodriguez (R-Fort Myers.)

Rodriguez is the sponsor of the medical marijuana bill that allowed marijuana flower to be sold to patients. That bill satisfied critics of the state’s ban on smokeable marijuana. Now an effort to cap the potency of the product is riling up advocates again.

Rep. John Cortes (D-Kissimmee) says he’s being inundated with emails.

"Right now they are stating that 10% is not enough that the dispensaries are giving 16-20%. They want to know why we went to the 10%," said Cortes.

Rodriguez points to research.

"We believe that there’s science that shows greater than 10% thc has been linked to harmful effects and so that’s why we have chosen the 10% limit. There’s also science about there that has shown that less than 10% is effective for medical purposes, so we have use that the delineation. We’re just following the science," said Rodriguez.

But, military veterans who often use the medication as a substitute for opioids say limiting the potency would lead to negative results. And that they oppose the bill, even if it benefits them a little. Melissa Villar of the Holistic Cannabis Community thinks the same.

"This PCB it’s bad policy. It’s bad policy to tie the fee waiver for veterans, their medical marijuana ID cards to limits to THC which no one has asked for," said Villar.

Rep. Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) says allowing veterans to waive the $75 card fee is great, but he believes the legislature is adding overbearing laws that doesn’t allow doctors freedom.

"We cannot tie the hands of the doctors. If those doctors who are prescribing, if we’re saying okay all you can give is 10% but yet and still they believe that you know what this individual might need a little more. Now the doctors like well listen I don’t want to go to jail so I’m not going to give you anymore," said Jones.

Meanwhile, Ron Watson with AltMed Florida says the proposal could result in people smoking more. Which some believe is the opposite of what the legislature wants.

"Strangely enough if your trying to discourage people from smoking, by passing this bill you’ll actually be encouraging them to smoke more. Because, if they are approved for this route it will take more for them to get the same results and the price will go up," said Watson.

Rep. Cortez believes the best thing to do is to get all the professionals in so they be advised on what the best thing to do would be. As of now he says the 10 percent cap ruins the bill.

“If we would do it the right way. And ask like I did last time with the smokable bill where we get all the information, communicate, get the professionals and tell us how do we do this the correct way. That’s what we need to do. I love Rodriguez bill but, the cap is the killer," said Cortes

The bill passed its first committee last week and is up in the House Appropriations Tuesday. There currently is no Senate companion.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.