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House Approves Pot Potency Cap

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Ed Andrieski
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Credit Ed Andrieski / AP Photo
The Florida Channel

A House bill would now put a 10% THC Cap on cannabis given to patients under the age of 21. The amendment falls in line with a priority of House Speaker Jose Oliva. Opponents say there’s a lack of proof the prohibition is necessary.

Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-Fort Myers) added the provision to a larger bill that would make several changes to the Department of Health. He says limiting the potency of marijuana for younger patients is needed for safety reasons.

"These genetically modified plants which are high THC have an impact on children. And it’s our duty as public policy makers to protect those children," Rodrigues said.

Rodrigues pointed to studies that he says show children using marijuana can have a negative effect.

"The Chief Medical Officer from the Department of Health, from HHS, cited a study that showed a 77% increase in suicide deaths from 2010-2015, in the state of Colorado among children ages 10-19 who had marijuana in their system at the time of the suicide," Rodrigues said.

But Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) says those and other studies don’t provide enough information to create policy decisions.

"There’s a lack of evidence because cannabis is a schedule one drug federally," Smith said. "Which puts a thumb on the scale of research on either side of this product. That is why I tried to push a state based study on this issue." 

Smith also says there’s no need for the change because no one’s requested it.

"We’re imposing a cap on THC that doctors and patients and families are not asking for. I reject all of this," Smith said. "I believe that this amendment is a prohibitionist amendment. That its written by individuals who do not support the legal medical cannabis program that we have in our state, that has been imposed on the legislature by the will of the voters."

Meanwhile similar legislation is facing pushback in the Senate. Monday the chamber shot down a proposal sponsored by Sen. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) who like Rodrigues pointed to studies as a reason for the move.

"The studies that are coming out on brain development show that large amount of THC have a very deleterious effect on brain development, especially in young adults," Harrell said.

St. Petersburg Senator Jeff Brandes wanted examples.

"Do you have a specific example of someone you’re trying to address or some abuse that you’ve seen in the current process so far given the current status of the law?" Brandes asked.

"I cannot give you a specific example of a person in the state of Florida," Harrell said. "I can refer you to the Lancid, I can refer you to the National Academy of Science and Engineering and Medicine. I can refer you to a whole variety of medical articles which I follow very closely on this."

The amendment failed. But the THC Cap discussion will head back to the Senate once Rodrigues’s Department of Health bill is sent over.

Copyright 2020 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

Blaise Gainey is a Multimedia 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.