Florida Senators Approve Limits on Potency of Marijuana

A bill that would impose limits on the levels of THC in marijuana products has been approved by a key Senate committee in Florida. This move comes as the state’s Supreme Court is still deliberating on whether a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana meets the necessary legal requirements to be included on the November ballot. The bill, known as SB 7050, was passed by the Senate Health Policy Committee and includes provisions such as capping the THC content in smokable marijuana at 30 percent, setting a limit of 60 percent for other products like pre-filled vape cartridges, and restricting edibles to 15 milligrams of THC per serving with a total cap of 200 mg. Edibles would also be allowed a potency variance of up to 15 percent.

The chairwoman of the committee, Colleen Burton, explained that the bill is intended to establish a regulatory framework for recreational marijuana in the event that the amendment is approved. It is important to note that these potency restrictions would only apply to products sold for recreational use, not medical marijuana. The bill passed with a 7-3 vote along party lines, with Republican committee members supporting it.

Last week, a similar measure (HB 1269) was approved by the House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee, but it did not include the potency variance for edibles. Critics of the proposed caps argue that they are premature, with Senator Tracie Davis stating that it is premature to make decisions before the outcome of the ballot initiative is known. Medical marijuana operators and other cannabis proponents also oppose the caps.

Trulieve, the state’s largest medical marijuana operator, has contributed over $40 million to the Smart & Safe Florida political committee, which is seeking to bring the recreational use proposal to voters. The company has been the main financial supporter of the initiative since its launch in 2022, except for a small portion of the funds collected.

If the proposed constitutional amendment passes, it would authorize the adult personal use of marijuana for individuals aged 21 and older. It would also allow the state’s existing licensed medical marijuana operators and other licensed entities to participate in the recreational marijuana industry. However, the proposed caps on THC levels could lead to a significant disparity between potency levels in the recreational and medical programs. While most smokable flower products currently sold by medical marijuana operators have THC levels below 30 percent, some products like vape cartridges have much higher potency levels than the proposed 60 percent cap.

Currently, over 870,000 patients are registered for Florida’s medical-use program, which was established following the approval of a constitutional amendment in 2016. However, the program can be costly for patients, with annual fees of $75 for a medical marijuana identification card and additional expenses for doctor consultations. Chairwoman Burton acknowledged that if the amendment passes, lawmakers would need to develop a more comprehensive regulatory framework for a recreational marijuana program. She emphasized the importance of keeping the potency of recreational marijuana equal to or lower than what is currently available in the medical market.

In conclusion, the approval of this bill by the Senate committee marks a significant step towards establishing potency limits for marijuana products in Florida. While the bill awaits further legislative action, the state’s Supreme Court is still deliberating on the proposed constitutional amendment. The outcome of both these processes will shape the future of marijuana regulation in the state, with potential implications for the medical and recreational markets.

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