Florida lawmakers passed a law allowing a severely restricted form of medical marijuana that helps only a limited number of patients and doesn’t get users high.
Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, has said he would sign the bill, which passed the state Senate 30-9 May 1.
Legislators “definitely made a difference in many people’s lives today,” said Ron Watson, a lobbyist and father of an 8-year-old boy, Dylan, who died of leukemia before MMJ could become available. “It was historic.”
The medical weed approved by the legislature is commonly known as Charlotte’s Web. It’s typically delivered as an oil extract, and it’s high in a chemical known as CBD. This substance is thought to quiet seizure activity, making it an ideal treatment for children with severe epilepsy. It’s consumed in food or liquid form, not smoked.
CBD oil is low in THC, the chemical that gets marijuana users high. This is a huge selling point in the Deep South and other conservative states: This extract can ease children’s suffering without helping hippies have fun.
“I’m a parent and a grandparent,” Scott said “I want to make sure my children, my grandchildren, have the access to the healthcare they want.”
CBD laws have passed in several deep-red states and are under consideration in several other places, including typically blue states such as Minnesota. Though they allow pot proponents to claim a partial victory when they pass, they only delay the inevitable: real MMJ and legal recreational weed.
Still, any step is a relief for parents and other caretakers whose children are suffering and even dying from seizure disorders like Dravet syndrome. Many of these people have organized lobbying groups and are pushing their state lawmakers for access to medical marijuana, even if it’s only CBD.
The law passed in Florida may not matter much. Voters there will decide in the fall whether they want real medical pot, including weed with higher levels of THC – which not only causes euphoria but helps with many other medical conditions.
That proposal, which will be on the November ballot, is expected to pass. A 60 percent vote is needed for it to become law, and polls show more than 70 percent of voters support it.
Republicans introduced the CBD bill in large part to counter the ballot initiative, which is expected to increase voter turnout. The legislation passed May 1 has drawn little media attention compared to the initiative, and attempts to appease voters with MMJ light appear to be falling short.