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Florida Senate Passes THC Cap Bill

Things are not so sunny for cannabis advocates in the Sunshine State after Florida lawmakers approved a cap on THC levels in adult-use marijuana. Why does a THC cap matter if the drug is still illegal in Florida? Because the move is a preemptive strike at voters and marijuana advocates pushing to legalize recreational marijuana via a November ballot initiative.


Marijuana legalization in Florida is a touchy subject, one that has caused strife between highly conservative lawmakers and a public that largely backs legalizing recreational marijuana. One poll out of the University of North Florida shows that at least two-thirds of Florida voters support a bid to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state, much to the chagrin of local lawmakers. Instead of taking an “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality, Florida officials seem to be attempting to preemptively take the teeth out of reform measures that could potentially make weed legal in the Sunshine State. 


What Is SPB 7050?


SPB 7050 is a measure recently approved by the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee. The measure stipulates that all smokable marijuana products may only contain a maximum of 30 percent THC. Concentrates and vaporizers must contain 60 percent or less THC. Edibles cannot exceed THC concentrations of 200 milligrams, and a single serving of an edible cannot exceed a potency of ten milligrams of THC. Previous attempts in the Florida House sought to cap THC at ten percent. 


If the bill makes it to the desk of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida will become the third state in the U.S. to impose a market-wide potency cap on marijuana products. Yet, why are Florida lawmakers passing a potency cap law when adult-use marijuana is not even legal in Florida? It may be to control the outcome of a November ballot initiative. 


What’s at Stake in Florida? 


Florida is home to a growing population of elderly individuals looking for a sunny place to retire and call home during their golden years. Florida is also home to one of the largest medicinal marijuana markets in the nation. Medical marijuana is big business in the state, with estimates suggesting that Florida’s medicinal market rakes in nearly $1 billion annually. Other estimates suggest that Florida has over 776,365 active medical cannabis patients, which represent more than 20 percent of the entire country’s registered patient count. The influx of elderly individuals with medical conditions may be one aspect of the equation. Still, there is no doubt from recent polls that marijuana is a hot topic and widely considered an acceptable drug by the voting public.


Despite legal challenges, in January, Gov. DeSantis conceded that a recreational marijuana legalization ballot initiative probably would appear on Florida’s November ballot. Legalizing adult-use marijuana is wildly popular among Florida voters, with at least 67 percent of individuals surveyed saying they would vote in favor of legalizing the possession and regulated sales of small amounts of weed. Previous surveys suggest nearly 76 percent of Florida voters support cannabis legalization. Florida law requires 60 percent voter support to pass a constitutional amendment. If previous statistics are any indication, there is a reasonable chance that Florida voters will push an adult-use marijuana initiative over the finish line.


The popularity of recreational marijuana in Florida is a problem for some state lawmakers. Gov. DeSantis has previously moved to make life challenging for those in the medical cannabis marketplace with his policy. While campaigning to become the Republican nominee for President, he routinely suggested he would not legalize marijuana nationally, saying, “I think it’s a real, real problem, and I think it’s a lot different than stuff that people were using 30 or 40 years ago. And I think when kids get on that, I think it causes a lot of problems. And then, of course, you know, they can throw fentanyl in any of this stuff now.”


What does all this political back and forth have to do with SPB 7050? Many advocates believe it is a government attempt to take the teeth out of a potential November cannabis victory for Florida voters and recreational cannabis supporters. The measure may only be the first of a string of bills that could attempt to limit the scope of the recreational marijuana industry. 


For those against the legalization of recreational cannabis, it is a smart move that preempts problems faced in states like Ohio. Ohio voters turned out in droves last year to pass a recreational marijuana initiative that was years in the making. To say that Republican lawmakers in the state were frustrated is an understatement. Almost immediately, Governor Mike DeWine called on conservative lawmakers to introduce measures meant to change the rules, allowing local governments to ban the sale and consumption of weed, attempting to claw back power and limit recreational marijuana sales and consumption in some regions of the state. 


Perhaps in an attempt to avoid the issues faced in Ohio, conservative lawmakers in Florida are striking early, attempting to introduce measures designed to restrict the recreational marijuana market if voters say “yes” to legalization in November. Some advocates worry that placing extreme caps on THC levels could have negative consequences and drive people back to an illicit and dangerous drug marketplace. For their part, Florida lawmakers say the measure aims to establish a regulatory framework that addresses concerns over high-potency products and their ill health effects. 


Some state lawmakers say it should be up to the voters to decide on the amendment, and officials shouldn’t make changes legislatively, especially before voters have their say. 


November should be an exciting time for Florida voters and cannabis enthusiasts. You can easily follow this story and more by bookmarking Cannabutter Digest. Check in regularly for the latest cannabis-related newsrecipes, and product reviews

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