Florida GOP’s Effort To Cap THC Goes Up in Smoke

A Republican-backed proposal in Florida to impose limits on THC potency in marijuana appears to have flamed out in the state’s legislative session.

GOP lawmakers there introduced two measures –– House Bill 1269 and Senate Bill 7050 –– that would “sought to preemptively ban adults’ access to cannabis flower products containing more than 30 percent THC,” according to NORML.

Recreational cannabis for adults remains illegal in Florida, although voters in the Sunshine State could have the opportunity to change that come November. 

The Florida Supreme Court is set to hand down a ruling on whether or not a proposed amendment to legalize cannabis for adults aged 21 and older in the state will qualify for this year’s ballot.

But with the legislative session winding down for the year, the proposals appear all but dead. 

According to local outlet Florida Politics, a key legislative committee “never found space on a Senate Fiscal Policy agenda” for the THC cap proposals. And with the committee’s final meeting slated for Tuesday, that means “the THC caps appear to have burned out before advancing to the Senate floor,” the outlet said.

Advocates of the would-be ballot proposal celebrated the death of the measures.

“We are pleased the voters may have an opportunity to vote on adult use prior to potential implementation language being decided on,” said Steve Vancore, a spokesperson for  medical cannabis provider Trulieve, as quoted by Florida Politics.

NORML was particularly outspoken in its opposition to the THC caps. In a letter sent to Florida lawmakers more than 2,000 times during this legislative session, the group urged the legislature to not “stifle the adult-use cannabis market before Floridians have even had a chance to vote for it.” 

“Prohibiting adults from accessing these products from state-licensed retailers will not eliminate consumers’ demand for them. Rather, it will encourage consumers to seek out high-THC products in the unregulated market. It will also move the production of these products exclusively underground. This undermines the primary goal of legalization, which is to provide patients with safe, above-ground access to lab-tested products of known purity, potency, and quality.”

NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano articulated the group’s opposition to THC caps in a letter to the editor published this month in the Boston Globe.

 “Unlike alcohol, THC is incapable of causing lethal overdose in humans. This fact is acknowledged by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, which has concluded, ‘No deaths from overdose of marijuana have been reported.’ Typically, when consumers encounter higher-potency products, they consume lesser quantities of them. … Rather than banning these products, regulators should provide the public with better safety information about the effects of more potent products, and they should continue to ensure that legal products do not get diverted to the youth market,” Armentano wrote.

Another Florida-based outlet, The Spacecoast Rocket, provided more background on the legislative effort to cap THC:

“The legislative journey for THC cap proposals began with the introduction of SB 7050 in the Senate, spearheaded by the Senate Health Policy Committee. The bill aimed to establish strict limits on the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content in cannabis products available in the state. THC is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, responsible for the high that users experience. Proponents of the bill argued that capping THC levels would help mitigate potential health risks associated with high-potency marijuana, particularly among younger users. Despite these concerns, SB 7050 encountered significant hurdles in the legislative process. The bill’s progress was halted as it failed to secure a spot on the agenda of the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee. With the legislative session’s committee meetings drawing to a close and no further meetings anticipated, the bill’s advancement has been effectively suspended.”

The Florida Supreme Court has until April 1 to make a ruling on the proposed adult-use marijuana amendment. Both sides made oral arguments before the court last November. 

The proposal is facing a challenge from state Attorney General Ashley Moody, who filed a lawsuit to  in May 2023 to block the marijuana amendment.

USA Today Network reported that Moody argued “that the proposed ballot language was not clear and didn’t stick to a single subject requirement.” 

“Attorneys for the state expanded on that before the Supreme Court, saying the wording didn’t make it clear that marijuana was still illegal under federal law and that the amendment would empower the small cartel that currently supplies medical marijuana,” the outlet said. “Moody previously has said the measure would give an unfair advantage to the state’s largest marijuana purveyor, Trulieve, which contributed all but 124 dollars of the $39 million raised to promote the amendment.”

USA Today Network noted that the Supreme Court justices “appeared to favor the amendment” during oral arguments. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis predicted last month that the court will approve the amendment, clearing the way for it to make the ballot in November. 

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