A measure that would regulate hemp products in Florida has passed in the House of Representatives, but its final passage remains uncertain as lawmakers grapple with the issue and the hemp industry worries about its livelihood.

The bill must return to the Senate before it can go to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk for his consideration, and the two-month legislative session ends on March 8.

For the past two years, Republicans in the Legislature have worked on adding additional regulations to hemp-derived products that have populated in Florida since the Legislature legalized the product in 2019, following the passage of the U.S. farm bill in 2018.

The measure (SB 1698) calls for limiting the amount of THC in hemp-derived products. THC is the main component in the cannabis plant that provides the psychoactive or “high” effect. It also bans the sale of delta-8 products, one of the most popular items sold in retail establishments since it came on the market four years ago.

The cap on THC products in Senate and House bills have been individual servings that cannot exceed 2 milligrams, and containers cannot exceed more than 10 milligrams. But the bill approved on Wednesday has increased those caps to 5 milligrams per individual servings, and 50 milligrams per container.

That was in reaction to complaints from members of the hemp industry that the caps were so low that it would drive them out of business.

But Rep. Tommy Gregory, who represents part of Manatee County and is an attorney, said if it were up to him, there would be zero milligrams per serving.

“I wish we could go to zero, but we don’t have the votes here today to do that. And some of my colleagues agree with me that we should just ban them all right now.”

In multiple committee meetings in both chambers this session, lawmakers heard testimony from hemp entrepreneurs that the bill would be a significant blow to their livelihoods. And it wasn’t just business owners, said Broward County Democratic Rep. Hillary Cassel, but those who have received medical benefits from these products.

“It was the people,” she said. “It was the mothers. It was the people living with chronic illnesses. Cancer. Lupus. And the list goes on and on talking about how these products changed their lives,” said Cassel.

But GOP Rep. Joel Rudman, a Panhandle-based physician, said that it was important that the state needs to regulate — not ban— hemp-derived products.

“You could get Sushi at a gas station, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it,” he said.

 A measure that would regulate hemp products in Florida has passed in the House of Representatives, but its final passage remains uncertain as lawmakers grapple with the issue and the hemp industry worries about its livelihood. The bill must return to the Senate before it can go to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk for his consideration,  Read More  

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