Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson hasn’t minced words in relation to recently launched litigation concerning the state’s hemp extract laws.
SB 1676 was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in late June this year to address loopholes in Florida’s hemp statutes that enabled unrestricted manufacturing and sale of high-potency hemp-derived products containing delta-8 THC* – even to minors.
This was followed by Operation Kandy Krush, which saw hundreds of food establishments inspected across the state. The crackdown resulted in the seizure of 68,689 packages of hemp extract products that were allegedly in breach of the new laws.
But Florida’s rules are being challenged – and Commissioner Simpson had a blunt message for the party behind it.
“To this plaintiff, who wants to fight our department’s effort to keep children safe – bring it on,” he said.
Commissioner Simpson said prior to the crackdown, hemp extracts were “out of control” in the state.
“As a direct result of Florida’s negligent oversight of this industry, children across our state were ingesting high-potency hemp extract products, which can have real and serious medical consequence.”
The Commissioner claims close to 1,000 children were exposed to high-potency THC products last year in incidents that resulted in calls to Poison Information Centers.
Among its actions, SB 1676:
- Added age requirements for the purchase of hemp products intended for human consumption.
- Prohibited marketing that targets children.
- Mandated products sold in in the state be packaged in a safe container.
- Holds ingestible hemp products to the same health and safety standards as other food products.
Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services states it has uncovered more than 107,400 packages of hemp extract since July this year that it claims were products targeting children.
“As Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, one of my top responsibilities is ensuring the safety of our food and protecting Florida’s consumers,” said Mr. Simpson.
* While hemp by legal definition contains very low levels of naturally occurring Delta-9 THC, it can have high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) that can be manipulated to create Delta-8. A number of US states are in the process of closing legal loopholes through tighter regulation, and in some cases banning Delta-8 products altogether.