Legislature passes hemp bill with THC caps, ban on alternative cannabinoids
Check the labels and shopkeeps; Wilton Simpson isn't playing around.

Marijuana leaves in a toy shopping cart on a colorful neon background
The Senate accepted a House change to how much THC would be allowed.

The Senate has accepted the House terms on how much THC should be in hemp extracts, passing legislation that will bring massive reforms to the industry, meaning its next stop is the Governor’s desk.

Sen. Colleen Burton’s bill (SB 1698) was changed on the previous day’s House Special Order Calendar to increase the permissible amount of delta-9 THC in hemp extract to 5 mg a serving or 50 mg a container, up from 2 mg and 10 mg limits in the bill as it was passed by the Senate.

In the House, Republicans joined Democrats in opposition during a surprisingly close 64-48 vote. But the Senate unanimously backed the revised language, just as it did the previous bill with the stricter limits on delta-9 THC.

Otherwise the bill has been substantially the same throughout the process, banning delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, delta-10-tetrahydrocannabinol, hexahydrocannabinol, tetrahydrocannabinol acetate, tetrahydrocannabiphorol and tetrahydrocannabivarin: compounds that target the CB1 receptors in the human endocannabinoid system.

Ahead of the House vote earlier on Wednesday, Democrats argued against the legislation, with a robust debate presenting a contrast to the lack of dialogue in the Senate when approving the amended bill.

Rep. Susan Valdez likened the bill to “big government coming in to take a business from the little guy and give it to somebody else,” like might have happened in Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

Rep. Robin Bartleman offered similar warnings, noting that the law would restrict access to Charlotte’s Web products from hemp stores, and suggesting that the state is picking a “winner” economically with this bill.

Rep. Marie Woodson said the bill is “really, really hurting Floridians,” driving people who currently participate in the hemp market to “drug dealers so they can function normally.”

Rep. Angie Nixon said the “hypocritical” bill would “kill 104,000 jobs” in the hemp industry, imposing harms on 6,000 businesses.

She added that Medicaid expansion would stop people from having to “resort to hemp and all that other stuff,” demonstrating a seeming faith in patent medicine with those remarks.

Supporting the bill, GOP Rep. Joel Rudman made a reference to “Sweet Leaf” by Black Sabbath and the “THC Groove” by the Bullet Boys to demonstrate cultural literacy before saying the bill ultimately was about “drugs.”

He noted that Food and Drug Administration legality doesn’t mean that hemp’s byproducts are “safe,” saying that the same agency approved COVID-19 shots. He also wondered why “patients” didn’t trust the “regulated system” set up by the state, embracing “self-medication” instead.

House sponsor GOP Rep. Tommy Gregory said in close that hemp advocates sold the state a “bill of goods,” masking this “psychoactive substance” under a move to pursue “industrial hemp.”

He urged disappointed hemp consumers to “do the right thing and stop using drugs,” likening the substance to opium, and saying “today’s a day of reckoning” for alternative cannabinoids legal in most other states due to federal law.

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


  • Let's have some common sense regulation

    March 6, 2024 at 6:51 pm

    These things need to be regulated just like everything else–alcohol, cigarettes, prescription and even OTC medications etc. Any substances which impair people ought to be regulated and taxed and laws enforced for public safety. Charlotte’s Web by definition is CBD only with no isolates. Does not get people high and safe even for children. That was the whole point. Nobody is against them regulating unsafe products, that’s fine. Let’s have some common sense and bring things in line with all substance use. But let’s also support our Florida farmers and businesses. Not everyone wants to go into a medical marijuana program. That’s fine for what it’s for. But they don’t sell many zero psychotropic substances. Most is high in THC. People want health products that don’t get them high. The ones who want to get high will always find a way and that needs to be dealt with. The state needs to crack down on the number of people driving while impaired if they do anything to expand marijuana use, medical or not. Not sure how, but something needs to be done. The main thing is to get things regulated in a sensible way so they can be taxed. While still allowing growth and competition.

  • MH/Duuuval

    March 6, 2024 at 10:04 pm

    “Not sure how, but something needs to be done ”

    Testing for pot will be tricky because frequent smokers will always test positive for its presence as THC builds up in body fat.

  • Let’s have some common sense regulation

    March 6, 2024 at 11:23 pm

    Driving safety should be based on outcome. Driving impaired and causing an accident can be anything from reckless driving, sleep deprivation, distracted driving, or any kind of medication or substance that causes a problem, and they are all safety hazards. If we approached it in this common sense way it would be easier for citizens,
    law enforcement, insurance, etc. This bill isn’t about safety. It’s about favoring dispensaries. Why not just restrict it the way they did for certain OTC medications like Sudafed, or like alcohol, tax it, and call it a day. Answer, it’s not about public safety.

Comments are closed.


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