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Don’t Worry – Medical Cannabis Potencies Are Not Affected by HB 1269

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Proposed Cap on Potency for Adult-Use 

Legislation (HB 1269) proposed by Representative Ralph Massullo provides for a maximum 30% THC potency limit (amended and increased from 10% in the original bill) on all smokable types of adult-use (recreational) cannabis products. For other routes, such as tinctures, edibles, or capsules, the maximum potency would be capped at 60%. This bill, if approved by the legislature and signed by Governor DeSantis, only becomes effective after a Constitutional Amendment permitting adult use is approved by the voters.

This bill was approved by the Florida House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee and will now move onto the Health & Human Services Committee for consideration. During the hearing, Representative Massullo, a physician and the bill’s sponsor, emphasized that the purpose of this bill was to protect public health and provide guidance to the public and the industry. In addition, Dr. Massullo emphasized the importance of protecting Florida’s Medical Marijuana program.

Florida is not the only state that would have limits on the percentage of THC potency in nonmedical cannabis. Connecticut and Vermont have also capped potency at 30% THC for cannabis flower and 60% for solid, concentrated cannabis products for adult-use purchases. 

Florida residents have been following the progression of efforts to legalize adult-use (recreational) cannabis for some time now. Recently, Governor Ron DeSantis expressed confidence that the Florida Supreme Court would permit the question regarding recreational legalization to be on the November 5, 2024 ballots. The Supreme Court is expected to rule prior to April 1st.

That is good news for people who do not qualify for a medical cannabis card.  If the proposed constitutional amendment is approved by 60% of the voters, adults over twenty-one will be permitted to purchase products at licensed dispensaries. 

There will be some differences between the medical cannabis program in Florida and regulations for non-medical users.  The legislation has not been passed yet, so it is hard to predict what the final rules for adult use will be in our state.  But Dr. Mussollo’s bill provides some guidance. Several legislatures have indicated that further regulations will be necessary if the adult use constitutional amendment is approved by the voters. 

Why the Cap on THC Potency for Recreational Use?

There are growing concerns about the long-term health effects of regular use of high-potency cannabis products.  Particularly smokable cannabis, as it enters the bloodstream quickly and can cause immediate and intense impairment. 

Regulators who support a cap on THC for recreational use are informed about the health risks associated with excessive use of high-potency cannabis. Some studies suggest potential physical and mental health risks that may increase exponentially with long-term use of high-potency THC. 

Typically, in states that have legalized adult use, the potency of products remains the same as those available for medicinal use.  In some cases, patients with severe health conditions or those receiving compassionate care for a terminal illness can access higher-potency medical marijuana with a revised recommendation from a healthcare provider. 

Of course, this is not what many people who support recreational use want. That means that Florida residents who do not have a medical cannabis card will be restricted in terms of the potency of cannabis products they can buy. Recreational cannabis sales may also have an additional excise tax added to each purchase, making products more expensive for non-medical users. 

What Does This Mean for Medical Cannabis Patients in Florida?

The proposed cap on THC applies only to adult-use (recreational) sales in Florida.  It will not impact the availability of higher-potency products for patients. The medical cannabis products that you rely on to help with symptom management will still be available.  

The proposed restrictions you have read about in the news will not apply to patients with a medical card. However, it may be an excellent reason for qualified patients to apply for and retain a Florida medical cannabis card. 


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