A Senate committee pondered one of the most controversial issues of 2020, a THC cap on cannabis, as an amendment on a previously unrelated bill.
However, it was a heavy lift on its first try, and was temporarily postponed in the Rules Committee. On a crowded agenda, there are no guarantees the bill will come back by the 6 p.m. deadline Monday.
While carveouts exist for terminally ill people under 21 and others for whom doctors can justify the smokable product that consumers prefer, the cap was still in play in the penultimate Senate committee meeting of 2020.
This, despite the protestations of canna-sympathetic Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Republican, that his colleagues would “hold the line.”
Brandes filed his own amendment, a proviso requiring that licenses of dormant medical marijuana treatment centers be yanked.
The “very comprehensive” bill, which includes language relating to AIDS/HIV, health care in underserved areas and the regulation of dental hygienists, had been non-controversial in previous stops.
It rolled through committees without a no vote.
But in classic Florida Legislature fashion, the omnibus bill became a battleground for a pitched battle in what had been another venue.
Harrell noted the amendments imposed the 10% cap for “kids” under the age of 21, except for terminally ill patients or in cases where authorizing physicians requested a waiver. It also included “informed consent” to address the negative impacts of marijuana.
Additionally, edibles would be limited in THC levels also.
“If the edible itself is 10% THC, the variation is 15% of that 10 MG, not 25%,” Harrell explained, even as edibles are not available in Florida beyond tinctures and mints.
Sen. Brandes wondered why this was introduced on “day fiftysomething.” Harrell did not know if this was in any other bill, but she was “very concerned” about young adults’ brain development.
Brandes noted that two physicians already sign off on cannabis for kids, asking for a specific example that would be remedied.
Harrell was “distressed” by studies relative to schizophrenia, using arguments from a Lancet study that has been dismissed by canna-advocates as junk science and a biased literature review. However, she had no specific example of anyone in Florida impacted by too much THC.
Skepticism continued from Democrats, with questions about increased costs to young patients to procure the second opinion. Harrell also couldn’t address industry impacts regarding the bulk of cultivation of higher THC strains before the bill was postponed given questions about the amendment.
The issue, dormant much of the Legislative Session, was sparked anew when House Speaker Jose Oliva suggested a cap for flower and derivatives was a “priority.”
The Speaker argues new super-strains in “Europe” produce “schizophrenic results, especially in young, developing brains.”
The language in the Harrell amendment addressed those qualms about cannabis’ potential effect on pre-adult minds.