SARASOTA (WWSB) - On Tuesday, a key House committee pushed forward a proposal to set a cap on the level of euphoria-inducing THC in smokable medical marijuana.
The plan approved by the House Appropriations Committee would also grant veterans free, state-issued medical marijuana ID cards. This sweetener reportedly angered some veterans who lashed out at the bill’s sponsor, Representative Ray Rodrigues, during an emotionally charged committee meeting.
Rodrigues has oversaw the House’s medical marijuana legislation since the state first authorized non-euphoric cannabis for a limited number of patients in 2014.
He says that that he based his latest proposal on studies that found marijuana with a THC-level of 10 percent or less was more beneficial than pot with a higher level of the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana that produces a euphoric effect.
“We’ve only had smokable medical cannabis legal in this state for two weeks," Rodrigues said. "So, it’s not like these folks have been buying this product and now if this bill passes, they are going to lose something they have had for a long time. That is not the case.”
Those who oppose the bill, includes Democratic Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, feel the THC cap will lead to people once again finding illegal ways of buying marijuana.
“They want the higher potency. Many of them need it, because their doctors are asking for it," Smith said. "By putting a cap arbitrarily at 10 percent THC on medical cannabis, it’s just going to incentivize people to get cannabis on the black market, which we don’t want.”
Supporter of the House THC cap bill say it remains to be seen whether the measure will ultimately be passed by the full legislature in the final three and a half weeks of session, as they are still working to come to agreement with the Senate and the governor’s office on the legislation.