Charlotte's Web Medical Marijuana Passes Florida Senate

In a pretty historic move for Florida, the legalization of the strain of marijuana known as "Charlotte's Web" was passed by the Senate on Monday by a whopping 36-3 vote.

The CW strain has very low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in it -- which is the stuff that gets you high when you smoke weed.

Charlotte's Web contains 0.5 percent THC and is used to help children who suffer a rare form of epilepsy.

The vote turns to the House, where it is expected to pass as well.

See also: Legislature Holds Hearing on Charlotte's Web, Medical Marijuana With No High

The 2013 CNN documentary Weed showcased Charlotte Figi, a 5-year-old girl whose epileptic seizures were radically reduced after she was given her first dose of medical marijuana by her parents. The Charlotte's Web strain is named after her.

Also, Charlotte's Web isn't smoked but, rather, converted into an oil for children to use. It also must be prescribed by a doctor.

"This is the last resort for some folks, for their children," said Sen. Arthenia Joyner, per the Tampa Tribune. "We have a responsibility to do what we can to alleviate the suffering and pain of children."

The federal Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve CW. Yet supporters say the strain of weed not only reduces seizures in children but in adults diagnosed with a form of epilepsy as well.

Although the Charlotte's Web measure is separate from the constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana on the ballot in November, it's still, of course, medical.

While the Florida Sheriffs Association backed the Charlotte's Web measure, it has come out and vehemently opposed other forms of medical marijuana in a "Don't Let Florida Got to Pot" campaign that targets Amendment 2.

Medical marijuana measures have come up in one form or another in Florida. And getting Charlotte's Web legalized, proponents say, is really no different.

"The [FSA] just backed a very narrow strain of medical marijuana usable for epilepsy -- so there is no dispute that marijuana is actually medicine," United for Care Campaign Manager Ben Pollara said in a statement last week. "Apparently, they're willing to turn their backs on all of the other patients who are in need."

Meanwhile, lawmakers see this as a victory for compassion.

"When a patient comes into your office and tells you all the meds that they're taking don't work, don't relieve their suffering, but marijuana does," Florida state Sen. Jeff Clemens told New Times, "it's hard to look that person in the eye and not do something about it."

The Charlotte's Web bill was sponsored by Sens. Aaron Bean of Jacksonville, Rob Bradley of Orange Park, and Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Shalimar and Democratic Rep. Katie Edwards of Plantation are sponsoring a similar bill.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph