Florida’s Senate Committee on Health Policy advanced a bill on Tuesday that would preemptively limit THC levels in adult-use marijuana products. The change would restrict products allowed under a recreational cannabis legalization ballot initiative that organizers are working to put on November’s ballot.
The bill, SPB 7050, would prohibit dispensary sales of marijuana flower with a potency of greater than 30 percent THC. All other cannabis products would be limited to 60 percent THC. It would also set a serving size on edible products of 10 milligrams THC or less, with the total amount per package no more than 200 mg.
“This is setting the stage and recognizing that should the amendment pass—should it be on the ballot and should the amendment pass—that we will continue to have a medical marijuana market and we would have a personal use market,” said Sen. Colleen Burton (R), who chairs the committee and who spoke in favor of the committee’s proposed THC limit bill. “The potencies and quantities that you see in the recommended language today are based upon keeping that separate.”
As more states have legalized marijuana and highly concentrated THC products become more widely available, some have raised concerns about apparent associations between high-THC products and mental health problems, especially in developing brains.
On the House side, that chamber’s Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee last week advanced a bill, HB 1269 from Rep. Ralph Massullo (R), that would set the same preemptive THC limits on recreational marijuana.
At Tuesday’s Senate panel hearing, Sen. Gayle Harrell (R) referenced studies indicating an association between high THC cannabis products and mental health issues like psychosis and schizophrenia, especially in youth.
“When I look at the medical evidence out there and the dangerous impact that high-potency THC has, it is overwhelming,” she argued, adding: “I can tell you, the high risk of schizophrenia is sixfold with high levels of THC.”
Other members expressed mixed feelings on the bill. Sen. Rosalind Osgood (D), who said she was 13 when she smoked her first joint—a decision she said led her to “be on the streets, homeless, with other addictions”—said she supports limiting the strength of mind-altering substances.
But rather than take up THC levels in the standalone measure, she said, “I would have preferred to have this bill at another time, after voters have made a decision, to comprehensively look at all the different arms that go toward this.”
Sen. Tracie Davis (D) was more critical, saying she’d prefer lawmakers continue to focus on addressing issues in the state’s medical marijuana program before setting limits on a recreational system months before it goes to voters.
“This feels like a preemption,” she said. “The best description is I think we’re putting the cart before the horse.”
Before reporting the bill favorably, lawmakers also approved an amendment allowing a THC potency variance of no more than 15 percent—a provision that mirrors edibles rules in the state’s medical program.
—Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.—
Florida’s medical cannabis dosage limits, meanwhile,—which were revised under controversial rules adopted in 2022, despite pushback from then-Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D)—are not based on the percentage of THC in a given product.
While the legalization measure itself has not yet officially qualified for November’s ballot, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) recently predicted a favorable legal outcome for activists in the Supreme Court in the face of a challenge from the attorney general who is seeking to block the vote.
“I think the court is going to approve that,” the governor said at his final presidential campaign event in New Hampshire last month, “so it’ll be on the ballot.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) has asked the court to invalidate the measure, despite activists collecting nearly one million signatures for ballot placement. The state official previously successfully petitioned justices to prevent a 2022 legalization initiative from receiving voter consideration.
That won’t be the case this round, according to the governor. While he opposes the reform—and pledged not to federally decriminalize marijuana if elected president when he was running—he says voters will get a chance to decide on the issue this time.
The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case against the Smart and Safe Florida campaign last November, but it has not issued a ruling yet. It will need to do so by April 1.
DeSantis also weighed in on another relevant cannabis policy issue last week when he separately told Murphy that he doesn’t believe the federal gun ban for state-legal marijuana consumers is constitutional. Florida’s former agriculture commission, Nikki Fried, brought a lawsuit against the Biden administration over the rule, though the governor did not get involved.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce released a poll last month showing that the reform proposal enjoys majority support from likely voters—but not quite enough to meet the state’s steep 60 percent threshold for passage.
That said, other previous polls have found that voters are well positioned to pass the legalization initiative with more than enough support. For example, the University of North Florida put out a survey last month that showed 67 percent of voters back the proposal.
The multi-state marijuana company Trulieve has contributed more than $40 million to the Smart and Safe Florida campaign to date. The state attorney general has accused the company of supporting the measure in order to have a “monopolistic stranglehold” on the state’s cannabis market.
Separately last week, a House subcommittee advanced a medical marijuana bill that would waive patient registration and renewal fees for service-disabled military veterans
Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.
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