The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has conducted the state’s most extensive sweep of food establishments selling hemp extract products.
During “Operation Kandy Krush”, more than 475 food establishments were inspected across 37 Florida counties. 68,689 packages of hemp extract products were seized during the operation, including high-potency THC items.
Operation Kandy Krush was a week-long statewide effort aimed at curbing the illegal sale of hemp extract products that appeal to or are marketed towards children, which is strictly prohibited by Florida law.
“After the Florida Legislature worked this year to reform Florida’s hemp laws, this operation now sends a clear message that illegal and unsafe hemp products have no place in our state, and we will continue diligently enforcing the law to keep our communities safe,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson.
A loophole previously existed in Florida’s hemp statutes allowing the unrestricted manufacturing and sale of high-potency hemp-derived products containing delta-8 THC, even to minors. While hemp by legal definition has very low THC levels, it can contain high levels of naturally occurring cannabidiol (CBD). Once extracted, the CBD can be manipulated to create delta-8 THC, which is an intoxicating cannabinoid.
Reforms under SB 1676 – signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in late June – clarified the term “attractive to children”. This now includes products shaped like humans, cartoons, or animals; those bearing a reasonable resemblance to existing, widely-distributed candy products, especially those that children might mistake for the branded candy; or any items containing color additives.
The reforms under SB 1676 also set age requirements for the purchase of hemp products intended for human consumption. It helps protect minors by prohibiting marketing that targets children and safeguards consumers by requiring all products sold in Florida to be packaged in safe containers. Furthermore, it subjects ingested hemp products to the same health and safety standards as other food products.
Florida isn’t alone in wrangling with Delta-8 THC products derived from hemp that have been popping up in all sorts of retail outlets – including gas stations. Many other US states have found themselves in a similar situation and some are taking actions ranging from tighter regulation to outright banning such products.