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Greg Steube files low-THC cannabis bill

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Sarasota state Rep. Greg Steube filed a bill Thursday that would expand the state’s low-THC medical cannabis regime.

The bill — HB 63 — contains several provisions that would substantially lower some barriers to entry for would-be medical cannabis growers and manufacturers, most notably a lack of limits on the number of manufacturers.

Under current law, only five vertically integrated licensees will legally be allowed to manufacture noneuphoric low-THC marijuana derivatives like Charlotte’s Web. They must have the capacity to grow some 40,000 plants and have an integrated supply chain from cultivation to distribution.

Steube’s bill would nix those requirements, as well as lower a bonding requirement from $5 million down to $2 million, which was a major stumbling block for some medical pot hopefuls that expressed interest but did not submit applications.

Sources familiar with the state’s medical pot regime say the bill was crafted to meet the approval of state Rep. Cary Pigman, who chairs the House Health Quality subcommittee to which the bill will likely be referred.

In order to allay the fears of some policymakers who are wary of too much expansion of the state’s legal weed regime, the bill contains a new provision requiring any facility to be 1,000 feet from schools, childcare facilities or substance abuse rehabilitation centers.

A licensure application fee was also raised to $100,000 in order to deter illicit actors.

Manufacturers that receive licenses via the current framework will be grandfathered in under the rules of the Compassionate Use Act of 2014, which Steube’s bill seeks to replace in state statutes.

Steube was not immediately available for comment.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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