Citing safety concerns and a lack of scientific data, a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday approved legislation that places strict regulations on the amount of THC used in hemp products that could significantly damage the burgeoning hemp industry in Florida.

The measure is now moving to the floor of the state Senate.

The measure (SB 1638) sponsored by Polk County Republican Sen. Colleen Burton would place caps on the amount of THC in hemp products. THC is the main ingredient that produces a psychoactive effect. It also would ban synthetically or naturally occurring versions of controlled substances listed as delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC.

This is the second consecutive session that Burton has brought forward such a proposal. Last year the bill also included measures to place caps on THC products, but those provisions were later removed, and the Legislature ultimately passed a less restrictive measure that barred the sale of such products to individuals under the age of 21.

In committee meetings leading into the regular 2024 legislative session, lawmakers heard from health officials about how children have ingested such products, despite the new law, at times leading them to go to the hospital.

Hemp entrepreneurs have said that no one has ever died from any overdoses, but Burton challenged that assertion on Wednesday at the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee.

“Ladies and gentlemen, that is not true,” she asserted.

Burton said that she had in front of her a 2021 document from the Medical Examiner’s Commission for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that confirmed that “we have Floridians who have died in Florida. The cause of their death was cannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoids.”

Burton’s bill calls for THC limits in hemp products to not exceed 2 milligrams per serving and 10 milligrams per container.

Orlando Democratic state Sen. Geraldine Thompson — one of only two members of the Senate Fiscal Policy who opposed the measure — said lawmakers were in the dark when it came to knowing what the appropriate dosage level was to regulate THC-hemp products because of a lack of data.

“How do we know 1,000 milligrams of THC is particularly excessive?” she asked. “How do we know that 2 milligrams per serving is too little or too much? How do we know 10 milligrams per container is the right cap?”

Tampa Republican Sen. Jay Collins said he didn’t want to hurt any businesses in Florida but said that the hemp entrepreneurs were not prepared at the committee meeting Wednesday.

“Why as an industry, have you not paid for a scientific, longitudinal, data driven study?” he asked. “Take the time to do the study, do the research and do it right. That is the industry gold standard. Use the rules to your advantage. Don’t complain about them. Solve the problem.”

Palm Beach County Democratic Sen. Lori Berman agreed with Collins.

“I wish you all had gotten together and given us an alternative,” she said. “I do think that there needs to be some regulations and some guardrails in the system, and we just don’t know what they are.”

North Florida Republican Sen. Corey Simon said the issue was personal for him.

He described an incident where he had been advised to take a delta-8 product to help him sleep, so he consumed one the night before he was scheduled to give a presentation.

He said that instead of making him sleepy, he felt his heart beating quickly and he ended up taking a walk at midnight.

“At about 12:45 after walking down the street, I tell my wife, ‘I need to go to the hospital.’ And I find myself at the hospital at 1 o’clock in the morning because I still can’t breathe, and my heartrate is elevated. That scared me,” he told the committee and the audience.

Simon also said he did not want to hurt any businesses, but said that he was voting yes for people like himself who were just looking for something to help them sleep, “and ended up in the emergency room, scared to death.”

Simon told the hemp industry officials in the audience that until they could come to a consensus on what’s medically necessary, “it’s going to be very difficult to regulate this in your favor.”

“If we want to go after the bad actors, let’s go after the bad actors,” said Democratic state Sen. Shevrin Jones, the only other member of the committee who opposed the measure. “But the fact that we’re going to blanket this right now that could potentially put many of these businesses out of business, I don’t think that’s what we want to do here today.”

The bill will now go to the Senate floor, but the House equivalent (HB 1613) still has two committees to move through before reaching the floor of that chamber.

 Citing safety concerns and a lack of scientific data, a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday approved legislation that places strict regulations on the amount of THC used in hemp products that could significantly damage the burgeoning hemp industry in Florida. The measure is now moving to the floor of the state Senate. The measure  Read More  

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