Florida Representative Ralph Massullo introduced House Bill 1269 on Jan. 5, which received its first reading on Jan. 9. If passed, the bill would implement limitations on potency in cannabis products specifically if adult-use cannabis is legalized.
The bill proposes strict limitations for smoking products, concentrates, and edibles. “Marijuana for personal use may not have a tetrahydrocannabinol potency, by weight or volume, of greater than 10% for marijuana in a form for smoking or greater than 60% in the final product for all other forms of marijuana, excluding edibles,” the original filed version states. “Edibles for personal use may not contain more than 200 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol and a single serving portion of an edible may not exceed 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol.”
In comparison to other state potency limitations, Massullo’s potency percentages are much lower. Also, the definition of “potency” within the HB-1269 text is complicated, described as “…the relative strength of cannabinoids, and the total amount, in milligrams, of tetrahydrocannabinol as the sum of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, plus 0.877 multiplied by tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, plus delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol as the sum of cannabidiol, plus 0.877 multiplied by cannabidiolic acid in the final product dispensed to a patient or caregiver.”
There are a few other proposed bills for the Florida 2024 legislative session. House Bill 1435 would create “Registry Identification Cards” for military veterans. House Bill 1497 would exempt specific applicants from medical cannabis treatment center licenses. Senate Bill 94 proposes reduced penalties for a person possessing 20 grams of cannabis or less for the first three violations. Senate Bill 166 would create protections for medical cannabis patients if they are public employees.
Massullo anticipates that adult-use legalization is right around the corner for Florida, especially with the 2024 ballot later this year. One initiative, Smart & Safe Florida, announced in June 2023 that it had gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot this year.
The campaign’s primary funding comes from multistate operation Trulieve. According to a statement by Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers, expressed the company’s dedication to consumers. “Our investment demonstrates our firm belief that Floridians are ready to experience the freedom to use cannabis for personal consumption; a freedom which is currently enjoyed by more than half of America’s adults,” Rivers said. “With over 965,000 validated signatures from nearly every part of our state, it is clear these voters share that belief. We are thrilled the campaign has made this milestone and look forward to seeing this initiative on the ballot next November.”
However, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody challenged the initiative just after the initiative gathered enough signatures. “We want to restate the fact that the petition language for this measure—which garnered over a million signatures from Florida voters—was drafted very conservatively and with the guidance of this very court,” Smart & Safe Florida stated in October 2023. “We anticipate that the court will stick to its deferential standard of review and will agree that the language strictly adheres to the law and the Florida constitution and will give the voters the opportunity to vote on this subject.”
In November 2023, oral arguments were made by the Florida Supreme Court. In response, Smart & Safe Florida released a statement about the hearing. “We believe that after today’s oral arguments, it is clear that the language was drafted to conform to the roadmap that the Court itself has provided in prior cases,” the organization wrote. “We hope that the Court agrees that the language strictly adheres to the law and will allow the citizens of Florida to exercise their sovereign right to decide whether to amend their constitution.” So far, no more progress has been made on the case, and the future of Smart & Safe Florida’s initiative is uncertain.
According to data provided by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab, 67% of poll participants said they would support adult-use cannabis in Florida, while only 28% said they would vote no, and 5% said they didn’t know, or declined to answer the question.
Recently, a different cannabis-related 2024 ballot initiative that would have allowed medical cannabis patients to grow their own cannabis at home was recently ended. In late December 2023, activists from a group called Wise and Free announced that they had withdrawn the initiative due to not collecting enough signatures. “The legislators keep making it harder for us to pass constitutional amendments so that giant conglomerates and large corporations are able to accomplish what they want, but we’re not,” said advocate Moriah Barnhart.
The initiative required 900,000 signatures, but the group also lacked necessary funding to properly manage the campaign. “When we could foresee being charged for late petitions in the millions, I couldn’t risk being personally accountable for those fees—especially since donations weren’t coming in to match the expenditures, much less additional costs,” Barnhart continued. “Now, billion-dollar companies and conglomerates are the only people who can have a say in Florida law.”