Hemp crackdown clears final House hurdle ahead of floor hearing

Select CBD products displayed in retail store. Photo taken in Vista, CA / USA - November 25, 2019.
Alternative cannabinoids would be banned, delta-9 THC would be capped in edibles.

Legislation that would ban many hemp products and restrict others has advanced through its final committee of reference in the House.

The Appropriations Committee moved forward Rep. Tommy Gregory’s legislation (HB 1613) despite members of both parties voicing concerns.

This was the bill’s fourth committee stop and 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 sponsor said his bill was intended to clear up “mistakes” previous Legislatures made in not regulating “psychoactive” components derived from cannabis, and that legislative intent was the production of industrial hemp. He also said the bill was not part of an “industry food fight” between hemp and medical cannabis, a contention disputed by members of the public in opposition.

The House product 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. That bill already passed the Senate without a single “no” vote.

The legislation would put a cap on delta-9 THC, which could negatively affect the 487 growers and roughly 10,000 retail outlets in the state. This would ban full-spectrum CBD, in which trace amounts of delta-9 are used along with other minor cannabinoids to create an entourage effect.

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

Gregory acknowledged these prohibitions would “impact their businesses,” given that many hemp products would be prohibited for in-state sale or production.

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

“I favor regulation,” Gregory said, likening hemp to an over-the-counter drug.

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.

Members of the public, as was the case before every committee vote on this bill, futilely argued that the legislation would do everything from criminalize producers to depriving people who rely on these products for palliative purposes.

Multiple military veterans noted the incongruity between needing the healing afforded to them by the 2018 Farm Bill’s allowance of these compounds and the choice of using medical marijuana, which is federally illegal though tolerated by recent presidential administrations.

One speaker contended nine similar bills are being run in other states currently, charging the “medical marijuana industry” with being behind all these legislative efforts.

Objections from the public didn’t move Republicans who control the committee into voting against the legislation at this committee stop, though some expressed concerns about the process.

Rep. Alex Andrade said that as opposed to medical marijuana, hemp is not “regulated for medical purposes.” But he supports the bill despite “personal frustrations” about regulation of a “consumable” because he “trusts” the sponsor.

Rep. Linda Chaney found it “concerning” that consumers will simply source this material from out of state or the “black market,” expressing “frustration” over a lack of amendments to mollify consumer concerns.

“I don’t know if I can support this if it gets to the floor without amendments,” she said.

Gregory said there’s “still time to amend the bill,” a move that would require it to be sent back to the Senate for reconciliation if changes are made. He said he would be comfortable with that if needed.

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.

Republican Rep. Jim Mooney, down on the bill, expressed concerns about the $2 million expenditure as part of his objection.

But others, including Rep. Ralph Massullo, likened hemp products to “snake oil” with dubious medical representations. Entirely coincidentally, Massullo is sponsoring a bill capping THC in recreational cannabis, should it become legal later this year, and he has said that bill is intended in part to protect the state’s medical marijuana scheme.

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


  • Don Sexton

    February 20, 2024 at 6:57 pm

    It is a shame. Natural products that actually help society. Both with employment and relief for the people. I suppose big pharmacy and the medical dispensaries have paid them off again(Government).

  • Michael McGraw

    February 23, 2024 at 8:25 am

    I’m sure it will be easier to just stop selling all the products than worry about the limits to Delta 9 or the presence of Delta 8 or Delta 10. That will give sales of medical cannibis accounts and cards a huge boost for the state to make revenue it’s not getting through the sales of food products with cannabis ingredients it legal to sell now.

Comments are closed.


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