Florida’s leading Republican advocate for legal cannabis teamed up with military veterans to denounce a proposed 10% THC cap on medical marijuana.
The flame was snuffed out for much of the Legislative Session, but was sparked anew when House Speaker Jose Oliva suggested a cap for flower and derivatives was a “priority.”
The Speaker’s position: new super-strains in “Europe” produce “schizophrenic results, especially in young, developing brains.”
On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Brandes and representatives of a pro-cannabis veterans’ group came together to counter that position, with Brandes saying the Senate must “hold the line” against the cap.
“Florida has turned the corner on medical cannabis,” Brandes said, noting that in the Senate, there is “broad support against the cap.”
Nonetheless, Brandes said to “keep an eye” on “Vaping 21” legislation, where a THC cap could easily be floated as an amendment as Session barrels toward close.
Brandes, who has pushed unsuccessfully for adult-use cannabis regardless of medical necessity, was joined by members of the Veterans Cannabis Project.
Brandes has previously pushed back against proposed caps, arguing imposing them would only encourage people to use more of the product to get the same effect.
The VCP advocates for cannabis access for veterans, including those of the perpetual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recent actions have included lobbying Virginia’s legislature.
Doug Distaso, executive director of the Veterans Cannabis Project, was injured when he was a Lt. Colonel.
“A lot of pills, a lot of therapy, and a lot of things that don’t work very well,” Distaso said, explaining that he discovered cannabis as a palliative “on the streets of D.C.”
“THC caps are not the answer,” Distaso said.
Dr. Kirk O’Donnell, senior medical advisor for Veterans Cannabis Project in the State of Florida, noted that in his practice, “patients have had amazing results” with cannabis.
This holds true with THC levels above 10%, he added. A cap is an “illogical policy.”
Regarding alleged links between THC and psychosis, O’Donnell discounted the narrative as a “chicken and an egg problem.”
And regarding a Lancet study heralded by cap proponents, the Doctor dismissed it as a “meta-analysis … a limited literature review … subject to bias on the author’s part.”
Tye Reedy, national advisor for Veterans Cannabis Project, described how his job with cannabis giant Acreage Holdings led to penalties, including a nasty letter from a former commanding officer and denial of a VA loan.
Cannabis saved him from the “opioid cocktails” the VA recommends, he noted.
Air Force veteran Henry Cobbs, Florida force commander for Veterans Cannabis Project, survived cancer but lost his job as Dean of the Air Force Special Ops school over the use of non-psychoactive CBD.
Cobbs’ crime: telling a fellow prostate cancer survivor that CBD helped put his cancer in remission.
He was overheard and “turned in for using illegal drugs.”
Despite the Drug Free Workplace Act allowing prescribed usage of Schedule 1 drugs, he was on the fast track to a firing, but retired just hours before termination.
Clearly, medical cannabis has medical benefits, for veterans and otherwise.
But for canna-skeptics, the issue remains a political football, putting the care of Florida’s 300,000+ medical patients at risk.