Richard Tempel: Restricting adult access to hemp products is unnecessary and could have unintended consequences

Select CBD products displayed in retail store. Photo taken in Vista, CA / USA - November 25, 2019.
Sometimes good intentions can miss the mark.

Each year, the Florida Legislature proposes new measures aimed at improving the safety and well-being of Floridians. We are fortunate to live in a state where our elected officials are proactive in prioritizing the health of our families, loved ones and neighbors — but sometimes good intentions can miss the mark.

As a board-certified emergency medicine specialist with over 20 years of experience, I have concerns regarding Senate Bill 1698, Hemp and Food Products. While I support the bill’s intent to protect children from inadvertently consuming hemp products, I believe the proposed restrictions on adult access to hemp-derived cannabinoids are unnecessary and could have unintended health consequences.

Throughout my career, including my tenure on the board of the American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association and as medical director for a Florida medical marijuana treatment center, I have gained extensive insight into the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids. It is well-established in scientific literature that hemp-derived cannabinoids are safe for adult use in doses up to 1500 mg per day. For conditions like Crohn’s disease, effective management can often require a substantial daily mix of cannabinoids. Overly restrictive regulations on these compounds could result in prolonged patient suffering and potentially lead to individuals seeking unsafe and unregulated alternatives.

In my years practicing emergency medicine, I’ve treated children who have ingested or been exposed to cannabis products. While such instances are indeed concerning, it is important to note that the typical treatment for these children in the ER is straightforward — hydration and rest. This approach is generally sufficient to manage the situation effectively, indicating that while it is crucial to prevent accidental ingestion, the response to such incidents is well-established and not typically severe.

The current legislative framework, established by the Florida Legislature last year, effectively addresses the risk of children mistaking hemp products for candy or snacks. Further restrictions proposed in SB 1698 could impede access to therapeutic products by adults, many of whom rely on them for significant health benefits.

The drug overdose crisis is a significant concern, and as a physician on the front lines, I understand the importance of safe and regulated access to effective medical treatments. However, limiting access to safer alternatives like hemp-derived cannabinoids could inadvertently exacerbate this crisis.

A more effective and balanced approach would be to focus SB 1698 on enhancing the child safety measures passed last year and supporting public education about responsible storage and use of hemp products in homes with children. The current language of SB 1698 and its companion, HB 1613, would hinder access to hemp products that many Floridians rely on to improve their quality of life. It is crucial to ensure that adults, especially those seeking medical benefits from these products, retain access to them.

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Dr. Richard Tempel is an emergency care physician in Maitland, with more than 20 years of experience.

Guest Author



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