Florida GOP Lawmaker Files Bill To Cap Marijuana At 10% THC If Voters Approve Legalization Ballot Measure

Florida GOP Lawmaker Files Bill To Cap Marijuana At 10% THC If Voters Approve Legalization Ballot Measure

Ahead of a potential Florida marijuana legalization vote on the ballot this November, a Republican lawmaker has preemptively filed a bill that would impose strict limitations on THC potency if the reform is approved by voters.

Rep. Ralph Massullo (R) introduced the legislation on Friday, proposing a THC cap that is significantly lower than what’s available in most state markets. It would take effect 30 days after voters pass any future constitutional amendment to enact legalization.

The bill would set a 10 percent THC limit for cannabis products that are meant for smoking and a 60 percent limit for other forms of marijuana such as extracts. Edibles could not contain more than 200 milligrams of THC, and individual servings could only have up to 10 milligrams.

This would create serious logistical and commercial problems for any adult-use market, and it’d likely be met with significant pushback from consumers, advocates and stakeholders if enacted. Cannabis flower that’s sold at the average recreational retailer or medical dispensary typically hovers around 20-30 percent THC.

That’s true of Florida’s existing medical cannabis market, too. And because Massullo’s bill only addresses “potency limits for adult personal use,” the proposal could create further complications by having two different sets of THC rules for patients and consumers.

Florida’s medical cannabis dosage limits—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.

The definition of “potency” that’s outlined in the new recreational-focused legislation is also somewhat complex and specifically discusses marijuana that’s “dispensed to a patient or caregiver”:

“‘Potency’ means the relative strength of cannabinoids, and the total amount, in milligrams, of tetrahydrocannabinol as the sum of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, plus 0.877 multiplied by tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, plus delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol as the sum of cannabidiol, plus 0.877 multiplied by cannabidiolic acid in the final product dispensed to a patient or caregiver.

In any case, it seems clear the bill is targeted at the current legalization initiative that may appear on this year’s ballot, depending on the outcome of an ongoing state Supreme Court case.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) is leading a legal challenge that seeks to invalidate the reform measure from the campaign Smart & Safe Florida, which already collected nearly one million signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The court heard oral arguments from both parties in November, but it remains to be seen where the justices will come down on the initiative.

In any case, the ballot measure does not set THC potency caps. So the bill from Massullo would subvert the initiative before voters are able to decide on the issue themselves.

In that sense, the legislation is also reminiscent of proposals that Ohio Republican lawmakers put forward late last year after voters in that state approved a legalization measure at the ballot. The governor and legislative leaders in Ohio are moving to significantly amend the new cannabis law, and THC potency limits have been similarly floated.

Meanwhile, back in Florida, officials said last month that they’ve arrested two paid canvassers charged with allegedly falsifying signatures on petitions to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the state’s 2024 ballot.

Nearly seven out of ten registered Florida voters say they support the marijuana legalization initiative, with majorities of every demographic surveyed in favor of the reform, according to a poll that was released last month.

The multi-state marijuana company Trulieve has contributed more than $39 million to the Smart & 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.

If approved, the measure would change the state Constitution to allow existing medical cannabis companies in the state like Trulieve to begin selling marijuana to all adults over 21. It contains a provision that would allow—but not require—lawmakers to take steps toward the approval of additional businesses. Home cultivation by consumers would not be allowed under the proposal as drafted.

Adults 21 and older would be able to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis, only five grams of which could be marijuana concentrate products. The three-page measure also omits equity provisions favored by advocates such as expungements or other relief for people with prior cannabis convictions.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 900 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.—

Separately, economic analysts from the Florida legislature and the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) estimate that the marijuana legalization initiative would generate between $195.6 million and $431.3 million in new sales tax revenue annually if voters enact it. And those figures could increase considerably if lawmakers opted to impose an additional excise tax on cannabis transactions that’s similar to the ones in place in other legalized states.

The governor, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has maintained opposition to the policy change and said last summer that he would not move to federally decriminalize cannabis if elected.

He also recently suggested that the increase in Florida’s medical cannabis patient population is partly due to people using the program as a “pretext” for recreational use.

Separately, DeSantis signed a bill that took effect over the summer that added restrictions to medical marijuana advertising and manufacturing, prohibiting any products or messages that promote “recreational” cannabis use, while adding more stringent eligibility requirements for workers in the industry.

Additionally, the governor approved a bill in June that expressly prohibits sober living facilities from allowing residents to possess or use medical marijuana, even if the patient is certified by a doctor to legally use cannabis therapeutically in accordance with state law. All other doctor-prescribed pharmaceutical medications may be permitted, however.

He also signed legislation in July banning sales of any consumable hemp products—including cannabis “chewing gum”—to people under 21, an expansion of an existing prohibition on young people being able to purchase smokable hemp.

The organizer of a separate Florida ballot initiative to legalize home cultivation of medical marijuana by patients recently withdrew the proposal, explaining that the campaign raised barely more than $4,000 and couldn’t cover costs associated with trying to qualify the measure.

In the legislature, meanwhile, a Florida Republican senator also introduced a bill last month to allow licensed medical cannabis businesses to take state tax deductions that they are barred from claiming at the federal level under an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code known as 280E.

Wisconsin Governor Says He’ll ‘Absolutely’ Sign Limited GOP Medical Marijuana Bill, Unless It Contains ‘Poison Pills’

Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

  Read More Feedzy 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *