Since voters passed Amendment 2 in 2016, legislators have done nothing but try and change the law that the people designed, asked for, worked for, and approved. Less than a month after the state’s new Governor, Ron DeSantis, forced lawmakers to back off their appeal to a court decision that reverses the ban on smokable cannabis, they have gone in a new direction to change the law – attempting to put a 10 percent cap on THC levels in smokable marijuana.
The bill was pushed forward by the House Appropriations Committee during a meeting – now giving it a chance at a vote on the House floor. If it passes that vote, it would be sent over to the Senate for consideration.
“A bill that was supposed to be about helping a community that is plagued with drug addiction and drug overdose … a bill that was supposed to be about helping a veteran community that is plagued [with] suicide is now being used as leverage by lawmakers to try and impose their will on the people,” said Jimmy Johnston, a veteran and president of the North Florida chapter of the Weed for Warriors Project.
Perhaps a ploy to try and gain votes, the House legislation would also give veterans free state-issued medical marijuana ID cards – but that is not enough to distract from the 10 percent THC cap they are trying to impose. That would be significantly lower than the amount of THC in the cannabis that is currently produced in the state – and it certainly wouldn’t solve any problems. In fact, it would only create new ones.
“If there’s less THC in the medical cannabis product, then folks are going to need to smoke more of it,” Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said. “The reality is that to overcome that, they’re either going to buy more product that isn’t flower … or they’re going to forego all of this, and because it doesn’t have the THC content that they need, they’re going to go to the black market.”
Since it’s already happened once before when the state passed their ban on smokable cannabis, if this bill is passed – directly violating the will of the voters – it would not be a surprise to see the state wind up right back in court. This bill is not being passed with the patients who need this medicine in mind; it is being passed by lawmakers who don’t fully understand medical marijuana, how it works, and why something like a THC cap could be devastating to some patients.
We can hope that they get it together and realize this is a mistake before it passes. Perhaps the floor vote will put an end to it, or maybe the Senate will let the bill sit and wait until it’s too late. On the other hand, it seems all too likely that Florida’s fight for smokable medical marijuana – the way Amendment 2 intended it to be – isn’t over yet.