Charlotte’s Web has legs. The Florida House Criminal Justice subcommittee voted 11-1 on Wednesday to legalize a strain of marijuana designed to be low in psychoactive properties and high in medicinal value known in other states as “Charlotte’s Web.”
The Republican-dominated committee, comprised of some of the most conservative members of the House, embraced the proposal by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, and Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, after hearing heart-wrenching testimony from families whose children suffer from chronic epilepsy. They told the committee that the discovery by a Colorado family, whose daughter’s name is Charlotte, of a low-THC and high CBD strain of marijuana is their last best hope.
The bill HB 843 gives anyone caught with this kind of marijuana an affirmative defense to avoid prosecution. It also steers $1 million in research to develop and distribute the specialty marijuana in Florida.
For a committee known for its dense, often tedious scrutiny of legal text, the debate was remarkable.
Rep. Dave Hood, a Republican trial lawyer from Daytona Beach who has been diagnosed with brain cancer, talked about the deceit of the federal government hiding the health benefits of marijuana for his cancer. Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, said he had his mind made up in opposition to the bill, then reluctantly met with a family from Fort Lauderdale, only to be persuaded to support it. Then there's Charles Van Zant, super conservative Republican architect and father of 8, who filed the amendment to raise the THC levels allowed.