June 16, 2014 / 6:45 PM / 3 years ago

CORRECTED-Florida governor signs law allowing limited medical marijuana use

(Corrects paragraph four to Washington state instead of California)

By Letitia Stein

TAMPA, Fla., June 16 (Reuters) - Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a law on Monday allowing for the limited use of a special strain of marijuana to treat epileptic seizures and other diseases.

State lawmakers passed the measure this spring with bipartisan support after impassioned appeals from parents seeking access to the form of marijuana known as “Charlotte’s Web,” named for a Colorado girl whose epileptic seizures have shown some response to the drug.

“As a father and grandfather, you never want to see kids suffer,” Scott, a Republican, said in a statement. “I am proud to stand today with families who deserve the ability to provide their children with the best treatment available.”

The new law will severely limit marijuana sales, keeping them well below those in Colorado and Washington state, where recreational marijuana has been legalized.

The Florida law allows use of the drug for people suffering from epilepsy, cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The Charlotte’s Web substance is not for smoking and is specially cultivated to be very low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the element that gets users high.

Experts say it is of only limited medical use and will not help in the treatment of patients with cancer or ALS, or veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The law is not related to a more expansive medical marijuana referendum up for vote in November, with polls showing widespread support.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have some form of laws that permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, though they vary widely, according to a Florida legislative analysis. (Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Eric Beech and Jim Loney)

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