The Phoenix Flyer

Big development: Bill sponsor says regulations on hemp are O.U.T., ‘Out’

By: - April 17, 2023 6:05 pm

Field of hemp. Credit: René Nijs via Flicker

Over the past month, hemp entrepreneurs have traveled to the state Capitol to advocate against a proposal to regulate hemp-derived products that could potentially hurt the hemp industry.

But Monday, many of those same professionals were cheering after the sponsor of the latest version of the bill removed any reference to limiting the THC dosage of those hemp-derived products. THC is the compound in the cannabis plant that can get you high.

In a committee meeting Monday, Manatee County House Republican Will Robinson Jr. said: “All caps are O.U.T., Out.”

Robinson was responding to a colleague, Democrat Anna Eskamani, of Orlando, on the committee. Robinson confirmed to her that his new amendment to the legislation would remove any references to capping the amount of THC in hemp products.

That means that products in hemp stores are not going to be affected in terms of their potency to consumers.

At the same time, the bill is still moving on issues regarding safety. The measure still maintains the safety requirements to keep products like Delta-8 THC out of the hands of those under age 21, provisions that aren’t remotely controversial and have been embraced by virtually everyone who has testified in three previous committee meetings held in the House and Senate.

“We’ve sure come a long way on this one,” said Florida Cannabis Action Network president Jodi James.

“You did a great job – saved a lot of businesses,” added William Clark from the Libertarian Party of Florida.

Carlos Hermida owns a hemp dispensary in Tampa and has attended previous committee meetings about the bill. He opted not to travel to Tallahassee Monday when he saw Robinson’s amendment added to the legislation last Friday.

“The public spoke and Robinson listened!” Hermida told the Phoenix in a text message. “I can’t help but be thankful to the representative for protecting the hemp industry and protecting our children.”

As originally written, Robinson’s bill HB 1475 (as well as a similar version in the state Senate) set limits on how much THC could be included per serving and per package of hemp products. Robinson raised the limits after the bill received its first hearing in a House committee, but hemp advocates said the limits still were far too low and would have made hemp-derived products less potent for consumers to purchase and thus threaten their businesses.

Robinson admitted that “there is more work to be done in this space,” but said that it was also a great indication that the committee process works. “It’s very important to take input from stakeholders and others,” he said.

The measure was unanimously approved by the House Infrastructure Committee, its third and final committee and now will go to the House floor. Its Senate equivalent (SB 1676) is scheduled to go before the Fiscal Policy Committee on Thursday of this week.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.