Florida lawmakers are considering bills that would impose caps on the potency of THC in marijuana products, in anticipation of a possible vote on legalization in November. The bills would only take effect if voters approve a constitutional amendment that would allow recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 and older.
What are the proposed THC caps?
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the high sensation. According to the bills, HB 1269 and SPB 7050, the THC levels in smokable marijuana would be limited to 30% for recreational use, while other forms of marijuana, such as concentrates, vapes, and oils, would be limited to 60%. Edibles would not be affected by the caps.
The sponsors of the bills, Rep. Ralph Massullo and Sen. Ray Rodrigues, argue that the caps are necessary to protect public health and safety, as high-potency marijuana products can have negative effects on mental health, especially for young people. They also point out that most medical marijuana products in Florida have THC levels below 30%, and that the caps would not affect the medical marijuana program.
How do the cannabis industry and advocates react?
The proposed THC caps have faced strong opposition from the cannabis industry and advocates, who claim that the limits are arbitrary, unsupported by science, and harmful to consumers. They argue that the caps would reduce the quality and variety of products available, drive up the prices and demand, and push people to the illicit market or to consume more to achieve the desired effects.
Trulieve, the largest medical marijuana operator in Florida, has contributed more than $40 million to the Smart & Safe Florida political committee, which is behind the ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. The committee has collected more than 900,000 signatures, but still needs to reach the threshold of 891,589 valid signatures and get approval from the Florida Supreme Court to qualify for the ballot.
What are the chances of legalization in Florida?
Florida is one of the largest and most influential states in the US, with a population of over 21 million and a GDP of over $1 trillion. It is also one of the fastest-growing markets for medical marijuana, with more than 450,000 registered patients and over $1.2 billion in sales in 2020.
However, Florida is also known for its strict regulations and political hurdles for cannabis reform. The state requires a 60% supermajority vote to amend the constitution, which is a high bar to clear for any issue. The state legislature and the governor are also controlled by Republicans, who are generally opposed to legalization.
According to a recent poll by the University of North Florida, 59% of Florida voters support legalizing recreational marijuana, while 31% oppose it and 10% are undecided. The poll also found that 72% of Democrats, 57% of independents, and 43% of Republicans favor legalization.
The poll suggests that legalization has a chance of passing in Florida, but it is not a sure thing. The outcome may depend on the turnout, the campaign spending, the public education, and the court ruling on the ballot language.