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Matt Gaetz: 'Not all marijuana is created equal'

Tallahassee is moving closer to approving a new law that would decriminalize marijuana that has low amounts of THC and high amounts of cannabidiol.

“We’re simply saying that not all marijuana is created equal,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, tells WOKV News.

THC is the mind-altering chemical in marijuana that causes the typical euphoric high associated with marijuana.  Cannabidiol is the non-psychoactive component of marijuana that many scientists say possess a wide range of medicinal, therapeutic benefits. 

Gaetz says if his bill were passed, it would legalize strains of marijuana that are less than 0.8% THC and more than 10% of cannabidiol.

“If there’s marijuana that meets those criteria – and someone is arrested for possession of that marijuana – their arrest will be expunged and they won’t face any criminal sanctions,” he says.

If passed, his bill would legalize the marijuana strain known as “Charlotte’s Web,” which Gaetz and his supporters say is effective in treating children who suffer from chronic seizures.

“It’s delivered in liquid form,” says Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, who introduced the Senate version of the bill.  “It’s not smoked.  It’s delivered as an oil with drops under the tongue.  It’s just a part of the marijuana plant that is extracted.”

Sen. Bradley says some of these children are suffering from seizures 300 times a week.

“These people want what’s best for their child,” he says.  “They are not criminals for wanting to try to help their child by giving their child this oral substance.  And those families have come and asked us to make it so that they are not criminals.  So that’s what the law is about.”

Rep. Gaetz is the Chair of the Florida House Criminal Justice Committee.  On Wednesday, it voted 12 to 1 in favor of the Charlotte’s Web bill (HB 843).

Citing broad bi-partisan support, Gaetz and Bradley tell WOKV News they’re both confident the bill will make its way to Governor Rick Scott’s desk.

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