DeSantis vetoes Florida bill that would ban delta-8 and other hemp products

Floridians will still be able to purchase and use delta-8 and other hemp products, according to the governor. Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill Friday aimed at reshaping the Florida market.

As the bill, SB 1698, progressed through Florida’s legislative process, consumers opposed it, saying they needed these products for their physical and mental health, as did businesses , saying it would cause thousands of Floridians to lose their jobs.

DeSantis, based on his veto letter, seemed to agree. In the letter, DeSantis said the bill would “impose debilitating regulatory burdens on small businesses” and “introduce significant disruption and harm to many small retail and manufacturing businesses in Florida.”

A study commissioned by a hemp trade group found that Florida’s hemp market generated more than $10 billion in sales in 2022 and employed more than 100,000 people.

DeSantis said he would encourage the Legislature to return to the topic next session to create a regulatory framework for Florida’s hemp market.

“Sensible, non-arbitrary regulation will provide much-needed stability to businesses and consumers – protecting public health and safety, allowing legitimate industry to thrive, and removing bad actors from the market,” he said. DeSantis said.

He listed three areas he would like lawmakers to focus on: quality control, product packaging requirements and reviewing how and where hemp products are sold.

As of early this week, the governor’s office had received more than 13,000 calls, emails and letters from people and groups calling for a veto. Fewer than 100 people have contacted his office in support of the bill.

Opponents of the bill included a group of consumers who feared that if passed, the bill could affect CBD, which has no psychoactive effect.

The bill sought to ban the sale of delta-8 hemp products, which can create a “high” feeling, and would have also banned hemp products containing other cannabinoids, including delta-10 , THC-V and THC-P. This would also have limited the resistance of the hemp-based products still authorized.

Since the cannabis plant contains more than 100 cannabinoids, low levels of these cannabinoids can exist in non-psychoactive products, which is why some CBD users feared that a blanket ban would remove these products from shelves.

Paige Figi, executive director of the Coalition for Access Now, opposed the bill because of the effect it could have on CBD. The CBD product Charlotte’s Web is named after Figi’s daughter, and Figi used the CBD product to manage Charlotte’s epilepsy.

Figi said that for families like hers, access to CBD was a matter of life and death.

Senators voted unanimously for the bill, but the House was more divided, with 14 Republicans voting against it — a notable schism for a legislature where Republicans are normally largely allied at the time of the final vote.

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Several Democrats opposed to the bill said that if passed, it would only benefit large medical marijuana dispensaries, which could take over business from shuttered hemp stores.

This November, Florida voters will be able to decide whether they want recreational marijuana legalized in the state. If the amendment passes, it will be medical marijuana licensees who will be able to sell to recreational buyers. DeSantis has expressed opposition to the marijuana amendment.

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