Charlotte’s Web marijuana bill advances in House, despite questionsby John Kennedy | March 20th, 2014
Although several lawmakers said they were deeply troubled by the bill, the House budget committee Thursday unanimously approved legislation aimed at barring prosecutors from charging those who have low-grade marijuana for use in treating seizures.
The so-called Charlotte’s Web measure (CS/HB 843) is getting the blessing of Republican leaders in the Legislature, with many seeing it as potentially blunting a ballot measure in November that would legalize medical marijuana in Florida.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, a sponsor of the proposal, said parents of children with severe epilepsy have gained relief treating them with a liquid form of a marijuana strain rich in cannabidiol or CBD, effective in treating seizure disorders. The pot is low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound which produces a “high.”
The legislation also sets aside $1 million for research into cannibidiol and its effect on childhood epilepsy.
“There is no high, but it has had a remarkable effect on these children,” Gaetz told the committee. “We’ve got kids who are 6-, 7-, 8-years-old, who are no longer on feeding tubes…They are now able to ride their bikes, play on the streets, and tell their parents they love them for the first time.”
Some lawmakers, though, said they were willing to go along with the bill Thursday. But that they remained concerned about opening the door to broader marijuana use. Even the cultivation of non-euphoric pot, which the bill would authorize, could be a problem, they said.
“It’s a real challenge for law enforcement,” said Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota. “I don’t want to see bad actors who are going to…sell marijuana for purposes not in this bill.”