Hemp crackdown gets another House committee hearing

Various CBD infused edible products on a shelf inside retail store. Photo taken in Vista, CA / USA - November 25, 2019.
The language is harsher than the parameters set up in 2018's Farm Bill, and could be a boost to the medical marijuana sector.

The Florida Senate unanimously approved legislation that would ban many hemp products and restrict others last week.

In the House, meanwhile, the bill (HB 1613) has one stop to go in the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, its fourth committee stop and likely the last chance for opponents of the bill to rehearse familiar arguments against the legislation that have been rejected throughout the process this year.

The Rep. Tommy Gregory bill is identical to Sen. Colleen Burton’s bill (SB 1698), proposing significant changes to a hemp market that has become established in the state in recent years.

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.

The bill would ban 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.

The bill enjoys the support of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). It also has a financial component: $2 million in nonrecurring funds to allow the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for testing equipment.

The effective date of the legislation has been pushed back during this process to Oct. 1, 2024, to allow more time for implementation.

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


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