Florida Legislator’s 21 and Under 10% Cap on THC is an Inhumane and Unjustified Argument

Updated: Mar 14

The recent attack from Florida legislators to impose a 10% THC cap for patients under 21 is just another attempt to undermine the will of the people and to begin the slow chipping away at a voted in constitutional amendment to have legal access to medicinal cannabis. Currently, the program is serving several hundred thousand patients across the State of Florida. Yet, law makers are aiming to begin negotiating the legitimacy of the people’s vote by imposing ridiculous claims supported by outdated and debunked studies.

Our Children Come First

Question - What should a patient rely on: a plant that is regulated by the state, that we know is grown with care and is tested by third parties, right here in the State of Florida, to ensure the highest safety standards; or, the pharmaceutical companies who create drugs that produce adverse side effects (including death) adding additional long-term consequences, the risk of more health issues, and are manufactured overseas by foreign countries with less stringent policies for safety?


Seems like a reasonable question to ask our Florida elected servants, who find it necessary to suppose that potentially harmful pharmaceuticals (such as Methylphenidate and Benzodiazepines) should be our only choice for treating children with complex neurodevelopmental disabilities. Right?


The obvious answer would certainly be the first choice, considering each patient has access to review the certificate of analysis (COA) of the products they chose to purchase. A regulatory rule imposed on Florida MMTCs ensures each consumer has full access to the safety of the products they consume. Most of us can agree, as well as any support from the MMTCs would be appreciated, that the safety of regulated medicinal cannabis products is not in question.


Has anyone looked at the risks of taking pharmaceuticals lately? We are conditioned to trust that pharmaceutical treatment options are the answer regardless of the laundry list of risks to your health. No such risks are evident with the use of medicinal cannabis. In fact, no known medical case exists claiming the use of medicinal cannabis was the cause of actual death. No known case exists in any written medical journal or printed communication backed by concrete evidence that suggest a single person has ever overdosed or became a mortality statistic on the account of using medicinal cannabis to treat their medical conditions. Pharmaceuticals do not share this same spotlight, and in fact, there are well respected scholarly studies that support conclusive data that drugs like Pemoline used to treat ADHD in children have severe consequential side effects on the liver and can cause acute hepatic failure.


Drugs such as Methylphenidate are no less harmful. According to the Mayo Clinic, the common drug Methylphenidate used to treat ADHD has over 100 possible adverse side effects.


It is appropriately documented and supported by study after study that these types of drugs are harmful to our children; and, that pharmaceuticals such as ADHD medications have long-term consequences on the health and well-being of children under long-term care and use.


Apparently, this is acceptable to Florida elected servants as a humane and justified treatment, nevertheless, the severe consequences these medications offer.


A 2009 study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that Ritalin (a form of Methylphenidate) can produce physical neurological changes and have “structural and biochemical effects in some regions of the brain that can be even greater than those of cocaine.”


Another study led by Professor Joan Baizer of the University of Buffalo “suggests that Ritalin has the potential for causing long-lasting changes in the brain cell structure and function.”


To further solidify the argument against pharmaceuticals, Pediatrics, Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics published the 2018 peer reviewed study, Pediatric ADHD Medication Exposures Reported to US Poison Control Centers, indicating that over 156,000 exposures were reported to the US poison control centers between 2000-2014 of which 76% of those reported had been 12 years of age or younger. Methylphenidate was reported as accounting for 46.2% of the exposures. Intentional medication abuse to prompt suicide was most often among 13-19 year-old.


Florida elected servants are so concerned with protecting our children from medicinal cannabis that they have intentionally neglected to have that same compassionate care towards the harmful pharmaceutical drugs that destroy the lives of thousands of children every year.

Apparently, political servants like Mr. Rodrigues, Mrs. Harrell, and Mr. Oliva lack both compassion and common sense when it comes to using taxpayer resources to combat harmful drug policies. You may argue that those drugs help children. Adequately so, medicinal cannabis does as well. The difference being medicinal cannabis is far safer and less harmful than traditional lab created synthetic drugs.


In retrospect to the current legislation, our elected servants have already imposed strict regulations on doctors to be highly trained and certified in the field of recommending medicinal cannabis for their patients. In fact, pediatric patients, which is defined under Florida Statue, as patients under the age of 18, require two recommending physicians before a minor can legally obtain access to medicinal cannabis. We should ask this very important question, “What qualifications do elected officials have that supersede those of the actual professionals required to be licensed and certified?

Certainly, Speaker Oliva, Senator Harrell or Senator Rodrigues don’t think they are somehow more qualified to make those decision above the credentials and expertise of the very doctors the legislators appointed as qualified. Mr. Rodrigues has a BA he received from a community college on a forensics scholarship. Mrs. Harrell has a degree in Spanish and a Masters in Latin American and somehow becomes a consultant on health information. Well, Senator Harrell, you fumbled like a rookie in a playoff game when it came to divulge your health information data backing your egregious claims. Maybe team up with a forensics expert next time?


Not sure how a forensics degree and a language degree override the years of education, hospital residency, and years of hands on experience of a doctor.


The arrogance and lack of qualified decision making doesn’t fall short there. According to Ray Rodrigues, “If we wanted to stop smoking, we would have set the concentration at 1%.”

This elected servant is imposing they have some privileged authority over the will of the people. This very statement suggests Mr. Rodrigues and his colleagues are somehow more privileged than say, Dr. Barry Gordon, who specializes in emergency medicine, has over 30 years of experience treating and consulting with patients of all types, and is a highly educated and trained professional on the aspects of recommending medicinal cannabis to patients both adult and pediatric.


And let’s not forget Representative House Speaker Oliva. Lecturing us on the health hazards of medicinal cannabis while his family business contributes to the death toll of cancer patients who die from cigar smoking. Yes, this elected servant was once the CEO of his family owned cigar business. Yet, he claims medicinal cannabis is dangerous, even though there is no credible argument to date that suggest this is scientifically true. The more logical approach to his opposition to medicinal cannabis is most likely due to the market changes in the interest in smoking carcinogenic cigars that cause deadly cancer. With the rise of hemp smoking as an alternative to tobacco, companies like Mr. Oliva’s surely are feeling the economic impact in their wallets. How times are changing.

Cigar smoking significantly increases your risk for cancer of the larynx (voice box), esophagus, lung, and oral cavity, which includes the mouth, tongue, and throat. If you smoke cigars, you have 4 to 10 times the risk of dying from oral, laryngeal, or esophageal cancers compared to a nonsmoker. Other cancers include pancreatic, kidney, bladder, colorectal, stomach, liver, cervical, and myeloid leukemia. As a former certified surgical tech, a wedge resection of a cancerous lung was all that was needed to see first-hand the damages tobacco smoking can cause to a healthy human lung. According to the National Cancer Institute, cigar smoke contains toxic, cancer-causing chemicals that are harmful to smokers and nonsmokers. They may be more toxic than cigarette smoke.


The irony in all this is medicinal cannabis is treating the very diseases Mr. Oliva’s family business causes. Mr. Oliva apparently thinks smoking cigars is more beneficial than your child receiving alternative treatments to their neurological disease. While his products cause death and illness, he professes in the name of humanity that you listen to what he says when he expresses interest in protecting the health of the people. Seriously? How more hypocritical can you get?


Being a politician bent on religious convictions or having a degree in forensics does not give you oppressive authority over the qualifications of board certified and State licensed physicians. In the same sense we don’t hire a plumber to fix our roof, we don’t consult with an unlicensed and unqualified public servant who has no medical background for answering for treatment options for our personal health. Why would anyone ever consult with a Latin major on health care concerns? From one medical professional (BHS in Healthcare Management and an AS in Surgical Technology here) to another, these elected servants should be nowhere near the health industry making medical decisions for the population.


To make matters worse for their argument, Mr. Rodrigues supports his baseless and unjustified position with outdated literature and studies done without proper conclusions drawn from long-term causality studies. The latest ammunition our elected servants wield is a study from The Lancelet Psychiatry which suggests that people develop psychosis from long-term use of high potency cannabis. However, the study has already been debunked for not proving causality.


In a nutshell, causality means that one event causes another event. In this case, long-term use of cannabis causes psychosis.


According to Dr. Diana Martinez, a psychiatrist and addiction researcher at Columbia University, “You can’t say that cannabis causes psychosis. It’s simply not supported by the data.”


Yet, Mr. Rodrigues leaves these important conclusions off the table of logical and justified reasoning and only cites the bias conclusions of the study to support his weak argument.


To further defeat his position with credible and substantiated authority, Krista M. Lisdahl, a clinical neuropsychologist at the University of Wisconsin also admits the study does not prove causality because one would need to follow the person over a period of time that started before they used cannabis until years later after developing psychosis behavior.

Florida legislators, you are fighting the battle on the wrong front. You should be wielding your righteous health concern sword at the pharmaceutical companies. And while we are here asking logical questions, why exactly are you not concerned with the real threat to our children’s health and safety? We can only speculate those reasons. Clearly, it makes no logical sense why we would waste time and energy on baseless and unsupportive claims against medicinal cannabis and the positive therapeutic effects it has on children who suffer from neurological disorders. Appears rather heartless and discriminatory against a class of people who are already are at odds with achieving a successful life in a cruel society.

However, all is not lost in this cumbersome circus of political servants falling over themselves to force their personal opinions and convictions upon the will of the people (as if they were the savoir of all humankind.) One grassroots organization, Florida Cannabis Action Network (FLCAN) is continuously working hard on the frontlines to make sure our political servants are not slipping backdoor legislation in with non-related issues, like Senator Harrell tried to do on the last attempt at the ridiculous 10% cap.


Club Twenty After is a proud business member of FLCAN and fully supports their dedicated actions to fair and just medicinal cannabis legislation. If you are a business or even an individual who wants to help support their mission to support medicinal cannabis as an alternative form of treatment, please join today and help make a difference for positive change.


Club Twenty After also supports responsible legislation to allow parents with children who suffer from neurological disorders, such as our son, to make the decisions of their child’s healthcare with a licensed professional. No politician should be writing laws to prevent parents from helping their child have a better quality of life.

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