On March 2, 2020, Senate Health Policy Chairwoman Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) introduced a bill proposing a 10% THC cap in medical marijuana for minor patients under the age of 21. Harrell pointed to medical articles that purported the dangers of high THC on adolescent brain function. “I am very concerned about what is happening to our young people,” Harrell stated when introducing the legislation.

This proposed legislation was to mark the first time lawmakers in either chamber would formally debate the issue. The bill showed early signs of trouble when medical cannabis advocate Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) reminded Harrell that patients under 18 are required to have approval from two doctors to be eligible for the cannabis treatment under established law. Harrell backed away from the bill amid these and other questions from Senate members, as reported by the Miami Herald. For the moment, the bill is stalled.

Outside the Senate Chamber, lobbyist Ron Watson said the cap would “put at risk the most vulnerable medical cannabis patients in Florida ” who are currently benefiting from higher-potency THC products.

What is THC – and Why is it So Controversial?

Cannabis is a naturally grown plant utilized for medicinal purposes for millennia. The plant was legalized for medical use in a majority of states because of its track record of being a safe and effective treatment for a wide range of conditions.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive compound in cannabis most associated with “getting high.” However, it also offers tangible healing properties and benefits, as outlined below.

  1. Chronic Pain Relief: THC is effective as a pain reliever because it interacts with the body’s own endocannabinoid system, which regulates inflammation and pain. THC in cannabis is safer than many pharmaceutical alternatives such as opioids – and in the vast majority of patients is non-addictive. MyChronicRelief.com reports that THC may offer 20x the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and 2x the effectiveness of hydrocortisone.
  2. Nausea Relief: THC in medical cannabis can alleviate or eliminate nausea and vomiting, especially important for those living with cancer and suffering from eating disorders.
  3. Appetite Stimulant: Correlated with nausea relief is the fact that THC can stimulate your appetite. A study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders stated that THC might also prove to be effective in treating anorexia.
  4. Mental Health Conditions: The versatility of THC is impressive. Not only is it being used to treat physical conditions successfully, but it is proving beneficial in patients with depression and anxiety. In regards to addictions, Cannabis-Med.org reports that medical cannabis is useful for treating alcohol, opiate, and benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms.
  5. Digestive Health: THC operates as an antispasmodic for those living with stomach, intestine, or urinary bladder spasms. THC provides relief to patients with Crohn’s Disease or diabetes by easing digestive pain, spasms, and overall discomfort.
  6. Antioxidant Benefits: According to a study conducted by Maryland’s National Institute of Mental Health, THC and CBD both offer antioxidant benefits in the human brain, protecting the brain’s cells from damage.

THC also creates euphoric effects, which is often the reason for establishment resistance. Equating this euphoria with nothing more than a “high” can make people doubt the usefulness of THC – and lead to legislative caps and limitations. However, the euphoric and psychological benefits associated with THC are proving life-changing for those suffering from depression or PTSD. The dopamine released with THC use can allow a patient to have more positive thoughts resulting in a more positive outlook overall.

As the usage of medical cannabis goes more mainstream, we expect that there will be more attempts at legislation and regulation, as well as breakthroughs in treatments and discoveries. We are truly at the very beginning of learning about all of the benefits of THC, CBD and medical cannabis.

If you are interested in how medical marijuana may improve your life and relieve your symptoms, call Neurology of Cannabis today. Dr. Daniel P. Stein is a leading expert on medical cannabis, and is based in Sarasota.