Potency of medical pot re-emerges as issue

By The News Service of Florida

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - With just days to go before the legislative session is slated to end, a House leader is reviving a push to limit the strength of smokable medical marijuana.

House Health & Human Services Chairman Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, on Tuesday filed an amendment that would cap the level of euphoria-inducing THC in smokable medical marijuana.

The amendment was filed to a Senate bill dealing with the Department of Health and could be taken up later Tuesday on the House floor.

Rodrigues’ amendment parallels a bill (HB 7117) he sponsored that never reached the floor for a full House vote and that lacked a Senate version.

Rodrigues and other House Republican leaders pushing the THC cap point to studies that found marijuana with THC levels of 10 percent or less was beneficial, while other research showed pot with higher levels of THC could lead to psychosis.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana that produces a euphoric effect. Scientists who work for one of the state’s licensed medical-marijuana operators, however, dispute the research findings that Rodrigues cites.

Rodrigues wants to amend a bill (SB 188) that includes an array of provisions related to health licensure. But industry lobbyists said the bill doesn’t contain anything that is considered must-pass before the legislative session is scheduled to end Friday.

The “most-critical health care components” in the measure already were passed in another bill Monday, health-care attorney and lobbyist Chris Nuland told The News Service of Florida.

“Nothing’s left in 188 that anybody’s got to have,” Nuland said.

There are a limited number of health care bills that remain in play that Rodrigues could use as potential vehicles for the THC cap, but the licensure-related measure is the least controversial.

Lobbyists who represent the state’s medical-marijuana operators said Tuesday the Senate, where a THC cap was never filed, is unlikely to agree to Rodrigues’ proposal.

News Service of Florida