Fla. House passes low-THC medical marijuana bill

By Scott Johnson, General assignment reporter, sjohnson@wjxt.com
Elizabeth Berry, Evening assignment manager, beth@wjxt.com
Published On: May 01 2014 06:23:10 PM EDT
Updated On: May 01 2014 11:40:00 PM EDT

VIDEO: The Florida House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the use of medical marijuana to help patients battling cancer and epilepsy. The Governor has said he will sign it.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

The Florida House passed a bill Thursday night that will legalize a form of medical marijuana known as "Charlotte's Web." The marijuana will be used to treat epilepsy and cancer patients.

The bill now has to be passed by the Florida Legislature.

After a lot of compromise, the House passed the bill 111-7 Thursday night. The bill allows non-euphoric medical marijuana to be used in certain medical cases.

Jami Talbot's son suffers from epileptic seizures, and she said it's a huge relief considering her son is running out of time.

"The medications aren't working as well as they used to, and I don't want to put him on another drug to help control the seizures. It would mean freedom," said Talbot. "He would be able to go to school like a normal child. He would be able to go out and play. He would just have his childhood back."

The bill put restrictions on how Charlotte's Web can be used. According to Senate Bill 1030, the marijuana can contain no more than .8 percent of THC, the chemical that makes users feel high.

The plant must also be converted to an oil and is not able to be smoked. The bill will only allow four dispensaries in the state and they would be highly regulated.

The marijuana will only be prescribed by doctors as a last resort if other treatments are not available, and the state will maintain a registry of eligible patients.

Republican state Rep. Mett Gaetz sponsored the bill. Gaetz said Thursday's vote is no indication that recreational marijuana will be approved in Florida.

"We have about 125,000 Floridians with epilepsy, many have it incurable, and many are children who will not see their 20th birthday because they have the worst seizure of their life. In Colorado they have seen a 50-100 percent reduction in their seizures," said Gaetz.

The Senate passed the bill earlier this week, but the House did make some small changes that means it will have to go back to the Senate. Gov. Rick Scott has already said he'll sign the bill once it does pass.

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