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Healthcare bill breathes new life into proposal to cap strong smokable medical pot


While House Health & Human Services Chairman Ray Rodrigues' bill to cap medical THC — the naturally occurring element in marijuana that produces a high — was never heard on the floor and failed to get a Senate companion, the Estero Republican's proposal is not dead yet.

But although there is only a matter of days left in the legislative session, the proposal to cap strong medical pot was tacked on as an amendment to a larger health-related agency bill, as often happens to some major changes in the final days of session.

The amendment was filed to a Senate bill dealing with the Department of Health and could be taken up later Tuesday night on the House floor. The proposal would limit the amount of THC, in dried leaves and marijuana flowers to 10 percent, citing research indicating that high-potency marijuana is associated with earlier onset of psychosis and the development of schizophrenia in marijuana users.

Current law places a limit on the amount of THC in edible products only, which may only contain 10 mg of THC per serving and 200 mg in total. The levels are much higher than what most patients would normally consume, according to industry experts.

Despite criticism that the bill is trying to curb the Legislature’s recent repeal of a ban on smoking medical marijuana, committee chair Rep. Ray Rodrigues said the bill is necessary because of the research around harmful effects of high-THC marijuana.