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

Florida residents will still be able to purchase and use Delta 8 and other cannabis products, after Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday vetoed a bill seeking to reshape Florida’s market.

As the bill, SB 1698moved through Florida’s legislative process, and was opposed by consumers who said they needed the products for their physical and mental health, and by companies who said it would cause thousands of Floridians to lose their jobs.

DeSantis, based on his book Veto letterSeems to agree. In the letter, DeSantis said the bill “would impose debilitating regulatory burdens on small businesses” and would cause “significant disruption and harm to many Florida small retail and manufacturing businesses.”

A study commissioned by a cannabis trade group found that Florida’s cannabis 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 cannabis market.

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

He listed three areas he would like the Legislature to focus on: quality control, product packaging requirements, and consideration of how and where cannabis 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 demanding a veto. Fewer than 100 people reached out to his office to support the bill.

Opponents to the bill included a group of consumers who feared that if passed, the bill could affect CBD, which is not psychoactive.

The bill sought to ban the sale of Delta 8 cannabis products, which can create a “high” sensation, and would also have banned cannabis products containing other cannabinoids including Delta 10, THC-V, and THC-P. It would also limit the potency of permitted cannabis products.

Because the hemp plant contains more than 100 cannabinoids, small levels of those cannabinoids may be present in non-psychoactive products, which is why some CBD users were concerned that a blanket ban would lead to products being removed from shelves.

Paige Figi, executive director of the Access Now Coalition, opposed the bill because of the impact it could have on CBD. The CBD product Charlotte’s Web is named after Fiji’s daughter, and Fiji 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 split for a Legislature where Republicans are usually largely aligned by the time the final vote comes around.

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

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Many Democrats who opposed the bill said that if it passed, it would only benefit large medical marijuana dispensaries, which could take business from shuttered cannabis stores.

In November, Florida voters will be able to decide whether they want to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. If the amendment is approved, medical marijuana license holders will be able to sell to recreational buyers. DeSantis has expressed opposition to the marijuana amendment.

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