The Phoenix Flyer

State Ag Commissioner: Don’t mess with medical marijuana potency

By: - April 8, 2019 11:28 am

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Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says Floridians with debilitating diseases may suffer if state lawmakers tamper with smokable medical marijuana’s potency.

The Florida House is advancing a bill that limits the level of tetrahydrocannabinol – the chemical agent that causes the high – to no more than 10 percent in whole-flower products. It would take effect next January, giving growers time to adjust their products. The level of THC in edibles would be capped at 7,000 mg for a 35-day supply, or 200 mg per day.

But Fried, who appointed the state’s first cannabis director and who has been an outspoken advocate for medical marijuana, says the THC cap could hurt patients like her mother who is using medical marijuana to help her cope with cancer.

“My concern is that we have so many patients that have debilitating conditions and need as many options in delivery mechanisms as possible,” said Fried, the only Democrat holding a statewide office in Florida. “I would encourage the Legislature to rethink having a cap on THC as far as (smokable) flower.”

“My mother is experiencing cancer right now. And I know that 10 percent flower would not do anything for her when she is suffering. So, making sure we’re putting the patients first has always been my priority,” Fried said.

Responding to an edict from Gov. Ron DeSantis, lawmakers passed a bill last month and DeSantis signed it into law allowing sick Floridians to use smokable medical marijuana for the first time. It follows a state Constitutional Amendment approved by more than 71 percent of the voters in 2016 endorsing medical marijuana.

The House bill (HB 7117) will be taken up Tuesday by the chamber’s Appropriations Committee. A similar proposal is not moving in the state Senate, but Senate leaders say they are open to the idea of capping the THC levels.

Rep. Ray Rodrigues, the Lee County Republican who is sponsoring the bill, says the state needs to set THC limits based on studies showing higher-potency marijuana can lead to psychosis or schizophrenia in some users.

But medical marijuana advocates say the limits will reduce the effectiveness of the drug, drive up costs and force many users to return to the black market.









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Lloyd Dunkelberger
Lloyd Dunkelberger

Lloyd Dunkelberger has been covering Florida government for over three decades. He’s reported and edited in Tallahassee for the New York Times Regional Newspapers group, Florida Politics, and the News Service of Florida. He grew up in Jacksonville and Palm Beach County and got his journalism degree at the University of Florida.