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Sunday, Aug 19, 2018
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Scott signs bill allowing low-THC pot for medical use

TALLAHASSEE — In an expected move, Gov. Rick Scott Monday signed legislation legalizing a non-euphoric strain of marijuana widely-known as Charlotte’s Web.

“The approval of Charlotte’s Web will ensure that children in Florida who suffer from seizures and other debilitating illnesses will have the medication needed to improve their quality of life,” Scott said in a news release.

The strain is low in THC, the ingredient that gives traditional marijuana users the high associated with the drug. The strain is high in cannabidiol, or CBD, which has been used to treat conditions such as childhood epilepsy.

Families with children who suffer from intense seizures testified during committee hearings throughout spring’s legislative session. Among them was Renee Petro, wife of an Army colonel, who spoke about the tortured life of their 8-year-old son, Branden.

The bill, SB 1030, was shepherded through the process by Republican state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, and three Republican state senators — Rob Bradley of Fleming Island, Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg and Aaron Bean of Fernandina Beach.

The forceful support of a group of conservative lawmakers was seen as both a nod to the changing perception of medical marijuana and an attempt to stop a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize all medical marijuana.

That measure, which will be “Amendment 2” on November’s ballot, is strongly supported by attorney John Morgan, a big Democratic donor whose firm employs Charlie Crist, the likely Democratic nominee for governor.

Morgan has put more than $3 million into his effort, which could help boost turnout for Democratic voters who would otherwise not vote.

After the bill’s passage, some supporters said they support legalizing Charlotte’s Web, but not the constitutional amendment.

“I hope passage of the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act shows people we’ve done the responsible thing and that legalizing euphoric marijuana for functionally recreational purposes would be unnecessary and undesirable,” Gaetz told the Northwest Florida Daily News shortly after session.

Scott also signed a separate bill, SB 1700, which protects the identities of Charlotte’s Web users.

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