Florida’s conservative lawmakers put aside the instinct to be against any form or marijuana legalization this past legislative session and passed a bill that legalizes a low-potency marijuana strain known as Charlotte’s Web.
It represented a turnaround for the Republican-controlled Legislature, and this week Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law.
It’s a humane decision that will provide some relief to children and others suffering from epilepsy, cancer and debilitating conditions that cause severe muscle spasms.
But support for the law should not be confused with the staunch opposition by the governor and other conservatives to Amendment 2 on the November ballot, which would make medical marijuana legal on a much greater scale.
The new law legalizes a marijuana strain low in the THC content that causes the euphoric high sought by illegal drug users.
The strain is rich in what is known as CBD, which is non-euphoric and effective in treating seizures. It will only be sold through five licensed dispensaries in the state to authorized physicians.
In addition, a “compassionate use registry” will be created to track the doctors and patients authorized to sell and use Charlotte’s Web, preventing a patient from getting approval from multiple doctors.
The law includes regulatory parameters that restrict the drug’s use to patients suffering severe seizures and spasms that other drugs are unable to minimize.
The Charlotte’s Web strain won’t be smoked, and won’t get anyone high.
That’s different from the rules and regulations under Amendment 2, which if passed would allow for the smoking of THC-laden marijuana and expand the definition of allowable medical conditions for those seeking a medical marijuana ID card from a physician.
Cancer, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV and MS are included in the text of the amendment along with the vaguely worded, “other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.”
Amendment 2’s opponents, which include the Florida Sheriff’s Association, are wary that “other conditions” might be construed to mean stress, back pain and other assorted ailments that could be manipulated by people wanting to legally purchase marijuana to get high.
The parents of children who suffer from severe seizures successfully lobbied state legislators this past session with their heartfelt stories.
Their message was aided by a desire among some lawmakers to have the compassionate use of a non-euphoric strain of marijuana separated from the medical marijuana question that will appear on the ballot.
Before heading to the polls in November, voters need to remember that the Charlotte’s Web strain won’t be smoked and won’t get anyone high.
That’s far different than the question posed under Amendment 2.