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Hemp, Hemp, Hooray!

New federal & state regs open the doors of perception

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Since medical marijuana laws went into effect in early 2017, the market has revolved primarily around CBD, a variant of the cannabis plant whose THC content is negligible (it’s legally capped at three-tenths of one percent). That market has been lucrative so far, and until the stuff is fully legalized by voters down the road, users will have to make do with that, and that alone. Up to this point, patients and providers alike haven’t had much in terms of official rules and regulations of the product, which has led to complaints about the quality and purity of the supply, in addition to concerns about inconsistency between one batch and another.

The situation came to a head following the recent controversy over bootleg vape cartridges, which sent more than 2,500 people to the hospital and ultimately killed 54 people in 27 states. The new rules that went into effect on January 1 are intended to address these issues. Clarity is always a good thing, but as with everything related to this subject, there could always be more. The News Service of Florida’s Dara Kam answered some of the (literally) burning questions many readers have asked about CBD products.

“The items—including gummy bears, chocolates and dog treats—are part of a national mania for CBD, a non-euphoric compound derived from cannabis plants,” writes Kam, who has taken the lead in reporting on this subject. Now, however, retailers will have to pay a $650 fee if they wish to continue selling CBD products in Florida, whether the company is based here or not. That may have a chilling effect on some, in a manner quite different from the chilling effect of cannabis. The state’s cannabis director, Holly Bell, says businesses have between 30 and 45 days to comply, and until then, any outstanding supply must be taken off shelves.

With the federal government having recently enacted the Hemp Farming Act, states now have full authority to do as they please with their own markets. This opens the door not only to CBD products but also to a wide range of fabrics, fibers, textiles, biofuels and other products that could ultimately generate more revenue (and jobs) than CBD itself—which is really saying something. The medical card is only necessary to buy the oils and flower, but most other products can be enjoyed by all, as the hemp plant is not legally classified as marijuana.

In July, Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation that established an enhanced regulatory regime for hemp goods, and now the purveyors of products made from the plant have a better understanding of what they can and can’t do. There will only be more and more CBD products landing on store shelves as the weeks and months go on, so it’s good that Florida has gotten ahead of the curve by laying down the law. All of this is great for customers, of course, but it’s also good for the companies; in this rapidly growing and highly competitive market, it will now be much harder for miscreants to take liberties with their wares. It will also be much easier for everyone involved to know exactly what they’re getting, where they’re getting it from, and how it got to them. Everyone wins!

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