Marijuana derivative gaining Republican support in Senateby John Kennedy | February 12th, 2014
Leading Republican senators Wednesday joined an effort by Senate President Don Gaetz’s son, Rep. Matt Gaetz, to legalize a marijuana derivative used to help epilepsy patients.
The GOP-backed measure (SB 1030), sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, and co-sponsored by Sens. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, would authorize prescription use of what’s dubbed Charlotte’s Web, an oil extract that when placed under a patient’s tongue, can offer some relief.
“This is completely different from what the public knows about marijuana,” Bean said . “I’m excited about the possibility of ending seizures in medically challenged kids.”
Rep. Gaetz is sponsoring a similar measure (HB 843) in the House. Because it contains such a small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Charlotte’s Web users do not get high.
By contrast, Democratic Sen. Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth, and Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, this week urged lawmakers to approve a medical marijuana measure (HB 859, SB 962).
Even if nothing is approved by the Legislature, Florida voters in November will get to decide whether to authorize pot-by-prescription for a range of illnesses. Twenty states and Washington, D.C., already have approved medical marijuana.
The Charlotte’s Web alternative, however, has been gaining support since the Florida Supreme Court last month cleared the way for the November vote on medical marijuana. For Republicans, the approach could be positioned to distract some of the momentum away from the medical marijuana amendment, which polls show is drawing overwhelming support.
“The language filed today is the starting point of a conversation about how we should adjust our laws to reflect new advancements in treatment,” Bradley said. “The sponsors in the Senate and House share the goal of providing relief to Floridians in need.”