August 10, 2022

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Doctors Push Back On Marijuana Potency Arguments

3 min read

Doctors in Florida battled allegations Thursday that the state’s medical marijuana program is being used by people who aim high for fun.

Doctors spoke out after a committee approved a controversial proposal from the Republican legislature in the State House.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, would impose THC potency limits on smokable medical marijuana and other cannabis products.

Opponents of the measure claim it would force patients to buy more products in order to get the relief they need from tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive component in cannabis.

The measure (HB 1455), approved by the House Budget Subcommittee on Thursday, would put a 10 percent THC limit on whole flower marijuana used for smoking and a 60 percent THC limit for most others medical marijuana products set.

Roach said the caps were necessary to dissuade Floridians from using the state’s tightly regulated medical marijuana program for entertainment.

He noted the rapidly growing number of patients in the state since voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2016 that largely allowed medical marijuana. More than 500,000 patients in Florida are qualified to use cannabis to treat a variety of conditions and the number of patients continues to climb.

“It may be hyperbolic of me to say this is the case, but I think we are headed in the direction where our medical marijuana program becomes a recreational drug use program under the guise of a medical marijuana program,” Roach previously said the House Panel voted 9-6 to approve the proposal.

But the Democrats pushed back, pointing out that Roach admitted he hadn’t spoken to doctors about the bill allowing marijuana to be ordered for their patients.

“How many emails have you received from people in your districts saying, ‘Please limit THC, we have to do this. ‘You didn’t get any. It makes no sense. There’s no point in that, ”said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat who is a vigilante for medical marijuana patients.

Florida for Care, a nonprofit involved in the 2016 constitutional amendment, hosted a video press conference with doctors shortly after the meeting ended.

Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist and marijuana researcher at Scottsdale Research Institute in Arizona, said studies Roach relied on were out of date. A lack of research into the effects of highly potent THC exists because the federal government only allows marijuana from a single source – the University of Mississippi – to be used in the studies, she noted.

But Sisley, who led a federal government-approved study on the effects of marijuana on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, said, “It is important to give people access to flowers that are high in THC.”

Doctors authorized by the state to order marijuana for patients denied Roach’s claims that the medical program is being abused by people who wish to use cannabis for recreational purposes.

“He’s not informed,” said Apollo Beach doctor Sasha Noe. “There are no signs of that. Where is the data I think he’s just using these inflammatory statements to make a point. ”

Some of her patients have “terrible problems” with PTSD and are “using their medication appropriately,” Noe said.

Roach “really doesn’t understand what I do, what all these doctors do to our medical patients on a daily basis,” she added.

Doctors who must undergo training before they can be authorized by the Florida Department of Health to order marijuana for patients can spot drug-seeking patients who do not qualify for cannabis treatment, added Melanie Bone, a doctor in West Palm Beach .

“It’s our job to show and prove that we can identify the people who don’t meet the criteria fairly easily. I’ll stop them at the front door, ”she said. “Yes, we have patients, but everyone has their own way of making sure we don’t compromise our integrity as doctors.”

In a 2017 law to implement the constitutional amendment, Republican-controlled Florida legislation banned medical marijuana operators from selling smokable cannabis. However, at the urging of Governor Ron DeSantis, lawmakers approved smokable medical marijuana in 2019.

Since then, House Republicans have tried to impose a THC limit on smokable cannabis, but the Senate has stalled efforts.

That year, however, Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, said his chamber was keen to meet pot potency limits.

Copyright 2021 Florida Health News

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