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CBD Oil in Florida: What You NEED to Know

There is often a joke that when anything usual happens in America, your first guess is Florida! Residents of the Sunshine State love its quirks, while everyone else seems confused by them. One place where it meets ‘the standard’ is laws surrounding CBD oil in Florida. There is an unwritten rule. It says that CBD legality is as needlessly complicated as possible.

Don’t believe us? Try this scenario on for size. California allows recreational cannabis. Technically, CBD is illegal there! The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp. It did nothing for cannabidiol, which remains a federally controlled substance. The FDA now won’t permit the addition of the compound to food items. Brands are also not allowed to refer to it as a ‘health supplement.’

The situation will ultimately lead to a position where we can only call CBD ‘a product.’ There is no national regulation, which means sellers can pollute the marketplace with garbage. The federal government allows states to create their own laws. This is why we have bizarre and obtuse local laws muddying the waters.

The assumption is that cannabidiol is legal in most states. But in many cases, it is only a recent development. For example, CBD in Florida was technically illegal until the middle of 2019!

 CBD Oil in Florida Is Now Legal

For a long time, the issue of CBD oil’s legality in Florida was contested. Certain attorneys claimed that the federal government’s action supersedes state law. Others said that hemp was illegal in Florida until the legislature said otherwise. Then you had lawyers who claimed that CBD derived from hemp was fine. You had to make sure it contained less than 0.3% THC, however.

Even in 2019, the Florida Department of Agriculture said that neither hemp nor CBD was legal. Governor Rick Scott had legalized the use of CBD for medicinal purposes in June 2014. Senate Bill 1030, the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, allowed the use of high-CBD, low-THC cannabis oil. But it could only come from Charlotte’s Web strain. Some of the qualifying conditions were ALS and epilepsy.

Eureka: Results for CBD

There was no legislation in place for general CBD oil use in Florida. That didn’t stop scores of vendors selling their wares. Even the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill didn’t legalize the non-intoxicating compound. Finally, in June 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1020 into law. It made provisions for state regulation of CBD.

Overall, the purpose of SB 1020 was to bring Florida’s hemp laws in line with that of the Farm Bill. Before the bill, hemp remained a controlled substance in the Sunshine State. Now, hemp cultivation is legal, as is the distribution and retail sale of hemp extract.

Can I Buy CBD Oil in Florida Today?

Yes, you can! Unlike other states, CBD oil in Florida is regulated. No merchant is permitted to sell or distribute the compound in the state without a certificate of analysis. It must come from an independent testing laboratory. The document has to show that the batch’s THC content does not exceed 0.3%. It also serves as proof that the products don’t contain unsafe contaminants such as heavy metals.

You can only sell or distribute CBD in Florida if its packaging contains the following information:

  • A QR or scannable code linked to the certificate of analysis
  • The expiry date
  • The batch number
  • The website address where one can find information about a batch
  • The mg of hemp extract
  • A statement confirming that there is no more than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis

All of the above is excellent news for the consumer. It means they can look forward to protections not afforded to them in other states.

Yet as at the beginning of 2020, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) was proving tardy in fulfilling its duties. The state began regulating CBD products on July 1, 2019. But each item must meet the strict guidelines as outlined above. Yet the FDACS has still not adequately enforced these laws. Therefore, the promised protections are not in place at this moment.

Industrial Hemp in Florida

SB 1020 is also great news for the hemp industry in Florida. Like every state that looks to implement a program, Florida had to create a hemp plan. The next step was to submit it to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Unfortunately, the state is nowhere near ready to begin the program.

In June 2017, Governor Rick Scott signed the Industrial Hemp Pilot Projects bill into law. It allowed the University of Florida (UF) and Florida A&M University (FAMU) to begin pilot projects. Both institutions are permitted to conduct research to look at the growing and selling of hemp.

It was a momentous occasion. The trouble is, all other hemp permits are delayed until early 2020, at least. The USDA declared its intention to issue regulations in late 2019 to accommodate the 2020 planting season. It is a situation that is hurting prospective hemp businesses in Florida. Some entrepreneurs have relocated to states such as Pennsylvania because of the delay.

At the time of writing, the FDACS is still establishing permits for private farmers. And at present, the hemp program will operate under the 2014 Farm Bill’s regulations. We wish we could tell you how to apply for a hemp permit. Sadly, we don’t know because the FDACS is not accepting applications at this time.

Is Marijuana Legal in Florida?

While CBD oil is only just legal in Florida, the state has had a medical marijuana program in place since 2016. The Sunshine State has never truly joined the cannabis revolution, however. It was guilty of falling headlong into the anti-pot hysteria of the 1930s. The strange case of Victor Licata helped demonize the herb in Florida.

In October 1933, Licata murdered four family members with an axe while they slept. There is ample evidence that he had a mental illness. However, traces of marijuana were found in his system. As a result, the media ran with the story that he was a cannabis ‘addict.’ The herb was a convenient scapegoat at a time when Harry Anslinger was on a crusade to ban it.

Not many people in Florida wept when the Marihuana Tax Act outlawed pot in 1937. There was little attempt to legalize in the modern era until 2013. At that time, a group of supporters collected over 745,000 signatures to place an MMJ program on the ballot. Known as Amendment 2, 57% of voters said ‘yes’ to medical marijuana in January 2014. Alas, in Florida, you need 60% of the vote to make a constitutional amendment. Therefore, the vote failed.

An MMJ Program of Sorts

In November 2016, a second attempt at a medical cannabis program succeeded. On this occasion, over 71% of voters were in favor of Amendment 2. It legalized pot with a physician’s recommendation for specific qualifying conditions. They included ALS, Crohn’s, PTSD, and AIDS.

However, it is a very restrictive program. First of all, you only get your card if a doctor agrees that the benefits of weed outweigh the risks. Also, the law didn’t permit the smoking of cannabis. Instead, you had to use oils, capsules, sprays, or a vaporizer. A Circuit Court Judge ruling stated that the prohibition of smoked marijuana was unconstitutional in May 2018. The Scott administration appealed. Once DeSantis replaced him, the legislature officially lifted the restriction in March 2019.

Allowances & Penalties

There are now a dozen qualifying conditions. As an MMJ cardholder, you can receive up to 2.5 ounces of whole flower marijuana every five weeks. But, you are not allowed to possess more than four ounces at once. You can legally use MMJ as a minor only if you have a terminal illness. You must also get a pediatrician’s approval to use smokable cannabis.

You are also able to use CBD oil in Florida if you have an MMJ card. The updated hemp bill means it is no longer necessary. The state retains a strict anti-recreational cannabis policy. Possession of up to 20 grams is a misdemeanor offense. It carries a fine of $1,000 and up to one year in prison. The possession or sale of more than 20 grams is a felony.

The range of sentences depends on volume. For example, the possession of under 25 pounds equates to a maximum penalty of up to five years. If caught with more than 2,000 pounds of cannabis, you receive a mandatory minimum term of seven years. The maximum sentence is 20 years.

Certain areas of Florida have slightly more lenient stances. For instance, possession of no more than 20 grams in Miami-Dade County is a civil infraction. You receive a $100 fine or two days of community service. Areas such as Orlando, Tampa, Palm Beach County, and Broward County have followed suit.

Final Thoughts on CBD in Florida

Thanks to SB 1020, CBD oil is now legal to purchase in Florida. It happened in June 2019 and has changed the face of the industry. Cannabidiol merchants are now free to profit without fear of arrest. Once the state gets around to implementing the law, consumers will enjoy a host of protections. Until then, be wary when making a CBD purchase. Stick with brands that provide third-party lab reports.

Hopefully, the hemp cultivation program will get off the ground sooner rather than later. The continued delay only hurts the business plans of those who intend to get involved. It is highly likely that hemp is the next big agricultural crop. As things stand, farmers in Florida are missing out.

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