Wading into the debate about medical marijuana, three Republican senators today filed a bill that would legalize a marijuana extract that supporters say can help children with a form of epilepsy. The bill (SB 1030), filed by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, and Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, is similar to a House proposal (HB 843) that has drawn widespread attention. The house bill was filed by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach on Feb. 6.
Holley and Peyton Moseley, a Gulf Breeze couple and parents of a child with severe epilepsy, thanked the senators for filing the bill.
“We are grateful to Senators Bradley, Brandes, and Bean for filing this lifesaving bill in the Senate today,” Peyton Moseley said. “Their compassion and understanding of the difference Charlotte’s Web can make in the treatment of our daughter RayAnn and tens of thousands of other Floridians suffering with severe epilepsy gives us hope for our daughter’s future.”
The bill comes as voters prepare to cast ballots in November on a much-broader proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana. The Senate and House bills focus on a substance known as “Charlotte’s Web,” which has a relatively small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component in marijuana. Supporters say the low level of THC in Charlotte’s Web means users do not get high.
“Charlotte’s Web helps patients improve their quality of life and offers hope to parents desperate to provide relief to their children,” Bradley said in a prepared statement. “While many Floridians have significant concerns about medical marijuana being misused, SB 1030 offers a new opportunity for Floridians who have not found relief with current medications.”
Bean also tried to draw a distinction with types of medical marijuana that get people high. “This is completely different from what the public knows about marijuana,” Bean said. “I’m excited about the possibility of ending seizures in medically challenged kids.”
Senate President Don Gaetz Wednesday said he would support passage of the legislation.
“I recognize the position Matt and I have taken may be controversial in the minds of some of our Northwest Florida neighbors,” Gaetz said in a statement. “It has taken time and prayer and struggle for me to arrive at my position. I respect those with differing points of view. Regardless of your opinion, I hope you will call, write, email or contact me with your questions, concerns or criticisms.”
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