GUEST POST: Capping THC Content in Medical Cannabis - Is This Another Shameless Cash Grab?


A measure to restrict the strength of smokable medical marijuana is on the Florida House floor in a move that threatens to curb retail sales of medical marijuana substantially. The bill, approved by the House Appropriations Committee on April 2nd, would limit the strength of marijuana flower to only 10 percent THC. Republican officials largely vocalize support for this alteration while the  Democrat majority remains opposed.

If there is one thing most medical professionals agree on in this divided state, it is the belief that medical marijuana deserves a place in legal healthcare. Floridians petitioned and voted for legality; in fact, the debate should have ended in November 2016 when 71 percent of Florida’s populace cast ballots in favor of allowing treatment of  debilitating health conditions with medical cannabis.

It was only a month ago that Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill approving the use of smokable forms of medical marijuana. Now, Florida House Republicans are once again rallying for restrictions that Florida residents did not ask them to write. At the helm of this prohibition-style drive is Rep. Ray Rodriguez--a name that may be familiar to you, as Rodriguez essentially is responsible for initializing the ban on smokable flower in the first place.  This seemingly influential Republican representative is now sponsoring the bill to cap the THC content of smokable marijuana at 10 percent.

This point must be emphasized: medical cannabis with 10 percent THC offers about half of the potency of what is currently available in dispensaries. Translation: patients would have to double their consumption to obtain the same level of medicinal relief.

What’s the Problem?

The ignorance here originates with the fact that House legislators are basing their beliefs and subsequent actions on both fear and inconclusive studies. Several House Representatives have voiced fears that high-THC marijuana could incite violence or induce psychotic tendencies. Once again, fear plays a significant role in motivating their actions. This fear suggests an unwillingness to educate themselves on the science of marijuana, and effectively makes these Representatives  appear ignorant. Moreover, without a medical degree, these officials are not qualified to speak intelligently on the subject.

Republicans and Democrats alike are beholden to special interests like “Big Pharma.” Big Pharma retains an average of four lobbyists for every congressman, congresswoman, and senator. The FDA, CDC, and Big Pharma do not consider the legalization of cannabis to be in their best interest as it is likely to threaten pharmaceutical profits. Profit and greed remain obstacles, though the big players are starting to feel pressure from “the will of the people”. As such, some are making attempts to restrict progress at any level and buy time for their special interests.

The public majority opposing the bill say that the cap and subsequent lower-potency marijuana offerings will lead to a more expensive point of entry for medical cannabis treatments. It is unfortunate to consider that this price hike may have been an objective from the start. Furthermore, the argument can be made that cannabis with higher THC levels are already on the market and that capping the percentage would lead to increased black-market cannabis sales.

Even though this bill was approved by the House, it will have to be considered by the Florida Senate. The proposal’s future may be doomed in the Senate, where no companion bill has been filed with only a few weeks to go in the legislative session. If approved by that chamber, it will land back on the desk of the governor, who could win significant public favor with a veto.

What Do You Think?

We want to know what you think. Do you think the legislature should prevent growers from producing high-potency strains of medical marijuana? Or should these strains remain legal for those who need it?

Heather Mouser-Fields (RN, BSN, CNOR, CCN) has been an active educator and advocate for medical cannabis in the state of Florida for over four years.

Heather has been practicing for 20 years, utilizing an extensive background in surgery and emergency medicine to care for cardiovascular, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, and endocrine illnesses. By dedicating time to her memberships in the American Cannabis Nurses Association, Holistic Nurses Association, Botanical Council and Herbalist Guild, Heather ensures that all elements of her work are current and effective.

Mouser-Fields earned degrees in Nursing, Psychology, English, and Accounting at Polk State College and the University of Florida. She continues to study traditional, holistic healing methodologies in addition to current scientific literature with an ultimate goal of improving healing practices with cannabis.

About CannaNurse Florida

As a Certified Cannabis Nurse, public speaker and small business owner, Heather uses her skills and passions to bring medical cannabis education to her extended community. Heather uses both social media and traditional networking to provide information about medical cannabis to wide audiences.

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