Proposed Legislation Sparks Debate on the Future of Florida’s Hemp Industry
Florida’s hemp industry is at odds with a legislative proposal that they say could negatively impact their businesses. The bill in question is aimed at establishing a maximum THC potency level in hemp products and defining hemp products in state law. While its sponsor, Rep. William Robinson, argues that it will help maintain clear lanes for medical marijuana and hemp systems, industry players believe that it would restrict access to some products and ultimately hurt demand.
The bill, officially known as House Bill 1475 and Senate Bill 1676, seeks to regulate the retail sale and distribution of hemp extract products. The proposed legislation would put stricter rules on the sale of some euphoric-inducing strains of the products, particularly those that could be accessed by minors. This move is aimed at keeping the products away from minors, especially high-potency THC products that could be harmful.
However, Carlos Hermida, the owner of Chillum Mushroom and Hemp Dispensary, expressed concerns that the provisions in the bill could be too strict and could potentially eliminate the demand for hemp products altogether. The regulations may not necessarily ban hemp products, but they could make it difficult for customers to purchase them, according to Hermida.
Florida Agricultural Commissioner Wilton Simpson is backing the bill, citing concerns about high-potency THC inside hemp products that are sold to minors. He argues that the legislation will create much-needed guardrails around these products, limiting access to minors.
Despite the concerns of the hemp industry, Jay McCormick, President of Florida Healthy Alternatives Association, testified that he opposes the THC caps but agrees with other provisions around safety and keeping the products away from kids. McCormick believes that more can be done to regulate these products, such as child-proof packaging, limiting access to persons over the age of 21, and placing these products behind counters and out of reach of children.
The bill continues to make progress in both chambers, but there remains a debate on the impact of the proposed legislation on the hemp industry in Florida. The state’s policymakers must find a balance between regulating the sale of hemp products and maintaining a thriving hemp industry that supports businesses and consumers.