Florida lawmakers consider imposing limits on potency of marijuana

Florida Lawmakers Consider Imposing THC Limits on Recreational Marijuana

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida lawmakers are taking steps to impose limits on the amount of THC, the euphoria-inducing component of marijuana, in pot products as a proposed constitutional amendment for recreational marijuana legalization looms.

In the past, legislative efforts to cap the amount of THC in smokable medical marijuana failed to gain support in the Senate. However, the Republican-controlled Legislature is reconsidering the issue as the Florida Supreme Court deliberates on whether voters should have the chance to cast ballots on a proposed constitutional amendment that would authorize the use of recreational marijuana for individuals aged 21 and older.

Last week, the House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee approved a modified version of a bill (HB 1269) that would establish THC caps for all non-medical marijuana products. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto, would only go into effect if the ballot proposal is approved by voters.

Similarly, the Senate Health Policy Committee is scheduled to discuss a similar bill (SPB 7050) on Tuesday.

Both bills propose capping the amount of THC in smokable marijuana at 30 percent for recreational use. They also aim to limit THC in all other forms of marijuana, except edibles, to 60 percent. Edibles would be capped at 10 milligrams of THC per single serving portion, with a total cap of 200 mg of THC.

However, the state’s medical marijuana operators and cannabis advocates oppose these proposed caps.

Trulieve, the largest medical marijuana operator in Florida, has contributed over $40 million to the Smart & Safe Florida political committee, which aims to put the ballot proposal before voters. The company has donated almost all of the money collected by the committee since its launch in 2022, with the intention of allowing currently licensed medical marijuana operators and other state licensed entities to participate in the recreational marijuana industry.

Initially, Massullo’s proposal suggested capping THC levels in smokable marijuana at 10 percent. However, this amount drew criticism from operators and cannabis advocates. Among the 24 states that have legalized recreational marijuana, only Connecticut and Vermont have set potency limits. These states have capped cannabis flower at 30 percent and other products at 60 percent, with an exception for pre-filled cartridges for vape pens, according to a legislative analysis of the Senate bill.

While the majority of smokable flower products sold by Florida’s medical marijuana operators have less than 30 percent THC, almost all of them have THC content higher than 10 percent.

The proposed potency restrictions would solely apply to products sold for recreational use, and opponents argue that a 60 percent cap on products such as vape cartridges would force operators to mix potentially dangerous additives. Some vape products currently sold by operators in Florida have THC levels of up to 90 percent.

Critics of the proposal claim that any arbitrary cap would increase costs, harm consumers, and promote growth in the illicit market. They believe that these proposed THC potency levels are arbitrary and lack supporting data.

The debate over pot potency has intensified as the number of patients eligible for medical marijuana has surged since lawmakers authorized smokable cannabis in 2019. Although former House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, strongly advocated for THC caps, the Senate has been reluctant to consider them. However, this year’s effort has gained the support of Senate Health Policy Chairwoman Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland.

During the House panel meeting, Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton, raised concerns about the regulation of different potency restrictions for medical and recreational use programs if the marijuana initiative passes.

Despite criticism, Massullo dismissed claims that the proposal was premature and cited a previously passed law that established the framework for the state’s medical marijuana industry before voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 authorizing its use.

“It’s important for us to protect the public against potential harms. It’s also important that we protect our existing medical-marijuana program,” Massullo emphasized.

However, lobbyist Ron Watson, representing one of the state’s medical marijuana operators, argued that even the proposed 30 percent THC cap on flower marijuana could drive people to the illicit market. He called the proposed caps “premature” and questioned their basis in data.

The fate of the proposed amendment and the THC limits will ultimately be decided by the Florida Supreme Court and the voters in November.

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