A fix for Florida’s Charlotte’s Web law is headed to the Senate floor after lawmakers amended the proposal to address concerns of drug abuse prevention experts.
In a series of amendments to SPB 7066, approved by the Rules Committee, advertising of cannabis products and marketing edibles attractive to children is prohibited. Lawmakers also placed restrictions on testing laboratories and dispensary medical directors.
Supporting the prohibition is Save Our Society from Drugs, a St. Petersburg-based organization aligned with Drug-Free America, a group that opposed a more expansive medicinal marijuana initiative than the one on the November ballot.
Edibles make up about 45 percent of the Colorado marijuana market. At least three deaths have been linked to edibles there, with the latest occurring last month.
SOS lobbyist Alan Suskey said such reports indicate that when lawmakers create a new industry, they also need to establish barriers to protect the public.
“What we aimed to do is keep candy and confections, things that are predominately seen as children’s products out of the marketplace,” Suskey said. “When this bill passes or in two years when another bill passes we want to make sure that candies and those sort of edibles like gummy bears are not there and marketed to children to try to grow that industry.”
Jodi James, a medicinal marijuana patient advocate, opposed the amendment.
“A little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down,” James said. “This bill now outlaws things like cough drops and Flintstone vitamins.”
Suskey disagreed with the assessment saying the intent was to find language to enable the state to block potentially harmful products from the market and which particular product would be banned remains to be seen.
Two other amendments are designed to corral conflicts of interest in a nascent industry. One defines “independent” testing laboratories to prohibit employees and contractors from having a direct or indirect interest in a dispensing organization. And another revision bans a dispensary’s medical director from recommending cannabis products to a patient.
“That’s a pretty basic and common-sense approach. You should not be able to make a recommendation to drive people into that business,” Suskey said. “That is not something that we think is good for the state of Florida or this policy.”
It is unclear when SPB 7066 will be heard on the Senate floor. The measure is a self-executing law and if the House approved it would go into effect with the governor’s signature.