Matt Dixon, (@Mdixon55)
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” feeling associated with the drug. The strain is high in cannbidiol, which has been used to treat things like childhood epilepsy.
Families with children who suffer from intense seizures testified during committee hearing throughout spring’s legislative session.
The bill, SB 1030, was shepherded through the process by Republicans state Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, and three Republicans state Sens. Rob Bradley of Fleming Island, Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, and Aaron Bean of Fernandina Beach.
“It is proof that every once in a while common sense and compassion can prevail in Tallahassee,” Gaetz said.
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.
“Legalizing euphoric marijuana for functionally recreational purposes would be unnecessary and undesirable,”
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 Webb, but not the constitutional amendment.
Gaetz did take a softer stance on the proposed amendment. He said he will oppose the measure, but the issue should be left up to voters. Shortly after session, he told the Northwest Florida Daily News that passage of his bill made the amendment “unnecessary and undesirable.”
Scott also signed a separate bill, SB 1700, which protects the identities of Charlotte’s Web users.