Senate hemp bill tweaked before full floor vote

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Delta-9 THC would be capped, while other THC derivatives would be banned altogether under this bill.

The Senate is nearing a floor vote on legislation that will change Florida’s hemp sector permanently months before voters are likely to consider a citizens’ initiative that could legalize marijuana for adult use.

Sen. Colleen Burton’s bill (SB 1698) proposes a number of material changes to what the sponsor calls an “unregulated market” and a “continuation” of work begun by the Legislature in 2023.

These include a ban on currently commercially available and federally legal products, along with a cap on delta-9 THC, which could negatively affect the 487 growers and roughly 10,000 retail outlets in the state.

Her bill enjoys the support of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). And it comes with new changes during its first hearing by the full Senate.

Amendments added at this stop include language deeming products that look like “toys” as attractive to children, $2 million in nonrecurring funds to allow the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for testing equipment, and language pushing back the effective date of the legislation to Oct. 1, 2024, to allow more time for implementation.

Other than those changes, the legislation is the same as it was going into Wednesday’s meeting, representing a crackdown on the industry.

The bill would ban alternative cannabinoids that serve as functional alternatives to delta-9 THC, the euphoria-inducing compound commodified by the state’s medical marijuana program.

The banned substances would include delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, delta-10-tetrahydrocannabinol, hexahydrocannabinol, tetrahydrocannabinol acetate, tetrahydrocannabiphorol and tetrahydrocannabivarin.

It revises the definition of “hemp” to “outline that hemp extract may not exceed 0.3% total delta-9-THC concentration on a wet-weight basis or exceed 2 milligrams per serving and 10 milligrams per container on a wet-weight basis.”

That sets a more rigorous standard than the federal one established in the 2018 Farm Bill that created initial parameters for the then-fledgling industry without arbitrary packaging limits. It would also impact full-spectrum CBD products, which meet the federal requirements and include minor cannabinoids as well.

The bill, if it passes, is a boon to the medical marijuana industry, as it removes competition for market share the hemp sector provides with THC, HHC and other cannabinoids that interact with CB1 receptors.

A previously identical version of the bill (HB 1613) is moving through the House as well, with the GOP Rep. Tommy Gregory product having advanced through its latest committee on Monday. It’s up again in a committee Thursday.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


3 comments

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  • Florida, the Freedom State?

    February 14, 2024 at 8:26 pm

    And since it’s still legal at the Federal Level all this will do is encourage people to order this from out of state while Florida misses out on the proceeds. Why does the GOP do literally everything they can to try and make life here worse?

    • MH/Duuuval

      February 14, 2024 at 10:45 pm

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