The wheels of legislation turning towards the regulation of a potential adult-use cannabis market have temporarily come to a halt. The bill in question, known as HB 1269, has been briefly postponed in the Health and Human Services Committee. While this does not signal the demise of the bill, it won’t be up for discussion this week.
Why the Delay?
Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo, the sponsor of HB 1269, indicated that further tweaks are necessary, leading to the short-lived pause. A proposed amendment to the bill that aimed to impose a 1g limit on THC per vape cart was also left unheard in the committee.
Implications of the Amendment
The proposed adjustment, coupled with the existing 60% cap on THC in concentrates as outlined in the bill, would prevent the manufacture of vape carts larger than 1.5 grams. Larger carts are more susceptible to clogging or coil burnout, thus this amendment might save vendors from dealing with returns due to faulty hardware.
Interestingly, the language of the bill groups all forms of THC together. This means the cap affects not just delta-9 THC, but also other isomers like delta-8, delta-10, THCA and THCV. However, there seems to be room for alternative cannabinoids (alt-cannabinoids) such as HHC, which could create opportunities for innovative marketing and chemistry strategies, especially if a citizens’ initiative allows recreational cannabis later this year.
Previous amendments to the bill have been favorable, with the psychoactive compound in pre-rolls and whole buds limited to a 30% level, a significant increase from the initial 10% level. The amended bill also envisions a two-track market, providing incentives for individuals to keep their medical marijuana cards.
If a proposed amendment to the state constitution authorizing adult personal use of marijuana is passed with at least 60% of the vote in the November 2024 elections, this law would come into effect 30 days later. However, this is subject to the amendment making the 2024 ballot and the Supreme Court’s review of the ballot language.
Polls suggest varying levels of public support for the amendment. A survey by Mason-Dixon indicates that it would receive 50% support on the ballot, falling short of ratification. However, a poll by the University of North Florida found that 70% of Floridians either “strongly” or “somewhat” support the legalization of recreational use for individuals over 21, with 29% opposed.
In the meantime, Smart & Safe Florida has already garnered more than a million verified signatures, meeting the threshold for ballot inclusion should the Supreme Court support its position. This committee has raised over $39 million, mainly from Trulieve, the state’s leading dispensary chain.
In conclusion, the future of the adult-use cannabis market remains in the balance, with legislation, public opinion, and the Supreme Court all playing pivotal roles. Whether the smoke will clear in favor of legalization or not remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure – the debate is far from over.