HomeNewsFlorida Hemp Cannabinoid Crackdown Nears?

Florida Hemp Cannabinoid Crackdown Nears?

A bill making its way through Florida’s House seeks to further tighten up regulations surrounding the state’s booming hemp industry.

In 2019, following hemp being federally legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill, Florida’s legislature created the State Hemp Program authorizing the cultivation of hemp and sale of hemp extract products. But loopholes at a federal and state level have seen the proliferation of intoxicating THC products created by manipulating non-intoxicating cannabidiol extracted from hemp.

Action was taken in Florida last year: banning some products considered to be attractive to children, putting in place minimum age requirements for purchase, requiring packaging to be in safe containers and subjecting ingestible hemp products to the same health and safety standards as other food products.

But in the views of some, the changes haven’t been enough.

Republican Rep. Tommy Gregory’s HB 1613 revises the definition of hemp and specifies that it does not include synthetically or naturally occurring versions of controlled substances including delta-8 and delta-10 THC. It will change the definition of “attractive to children”, which would capture more products considered so and make them illegal.

Additionally, laboratory testing and packaging requirements currently applicable to hemp would be expanded to include hemp extract manufactured, delivered, held, or offered for sale in the state. HB 1613 also appropriates a one-off $2 million from Florida’s General Revenue Fund to the Department of Law Enforcement for the purchase of testing equipment that will be necessary to implement the bill.

There has been plenty of pushback from the local industry, which argues the changes would have an economic impact of billions and threaten the jobs of thousands of workers. It would also involve a significant hit to the state’s coffers in terms of sales tax revenue. Some estimates state Florida’s hemp industry accounts for more than $14 billion and approximately 190,000 jobs in the state.

HB 1613’s Senate companion, SB 1698, has already passed the Senate unanimously. Assuming HB 1613 passes muster in the House, it will head to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Whether Governor DeSantis would sign it into law isn’t clear.

Terry Lassitenaz
Terry Lassitenaz writes exclusively for Hemp Gazette and has done so since the site launched in 2015. He has a special interest in the political arena relating to medical cannabis, particularly in Australia, and addressing the many myths surrounding this incredibly useful plant. You can contact Terry here.

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