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Florida Governor Vetoes Hemp Bill

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has vetoed a bill he says would impose debilitating regulatory burdens on small businesses involved with hemp products.

Loopholes at a federal and state level have seen the proliferation of intoxicating hemp-derived THC products in Florida. While action has been taken, including new regulations setting age limits for purchasing  and inspections of hundreds of food establishments last year that netted tens of thousands of illegal hemp extract products, it hasn’t been enough to stem the tide.

Rep. Tommy Gregory’s HB 1613 and its Senate companion SB 1698 would have provided stricter conditions for possession, manufacture, delivery, hold, offer for sale, distribution, or sale of hemp extract, and prohibited businesses and food establishments from possessing hemp extract products that are attractive to children. It also would have banned the sale of novel THC products, including those containing delta-8 and delta-10 THC.

SB 1698 passed a Senate vote in March, 64 to 48. The bill was sent to Governor DeSantis on June 7 and he vetoed it on the same day. While the Governor commented that SB 1698’s goal were commendable, it would “almost certainly” fail to achieve its purposes.

“”Senate Bill 1698 would introduce dramatic disruption and harm to many small retail and manufacturing businesses in Florida – businesses that have emerged due to recent legislation paying the way for the commercial use of hemp,” said the Governor in his veto letter.

Governor DeSantis is urging reconsideration of the issues in the next legislative session, with a focus on quality control, labelling, marketing and packaging, and retail sales.

Regarding the latter, the Governor says legislation should ensure hemp-derived cannabinoid products are sold “behind the counter” and businesses selling them operate at sufficient distance from areas and facilities including schools where children and families regularly gather.

In the interim, Governor DeSantis has urged the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to continue cracking down on products in violation of the state’s laws.

CBS reports the governor’s office was flooded with thousands of emails urging him to veto the bill, and there were only a few dozen supporting the measure. Among those against it was the Florida Healthy Alternatives Association, which welcomed the veto, stating it was a “huge step forward for responsible hemp usage”.

Steven Gothrinet
Steven Gothrinet has been part of the Hemp Gazette in-house reporting team since 2015. Steven's broad interest in cannabis was initially fueled by the realisation of industrial hemp's versatility across multiple sectors. You can contact Steve here.

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