Could Delta-8 marijuana products soon be a thing of the past in Florida?

TALLAHASSEE – After years of partisan wrangling over the fate of Florida’s medical marijuana program, Democrats and Republicans are coming together to push forward what they call a major reform bill.

It might be much harder for Floridians to get their hands on any delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products.

These smokable and edible products are part of a rapidly growing market in Florida. Due to a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill passed by Congress, hemp products containing a lot of Delta-8 are not regulated like marijuana products high in the psychoactive compound delta-9 THC – even if the compounds are extremely similar. Delta-9 produces the euphoric effect experienced by medical and recreational marijuana users.

But Delta-8 is only lightly regulated by the state. The Cannabis Reform Bill, HB 679, sponsored by Representatives Andrew Learned, D-Brandon and Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, would change that.

It would also allow:

  • Expand the use of telehealth in medical marijuana.
  • Restrict advertising of medical marijuana.
  • Require doctors to take six hours of training before they are allowed to recommend marijuana to patients.
  • Extend Cannabis Patient Registration Cards to last two years instead of one.
  • Stop medical marijuana companies from sitting on an inactive license and then returning it for profit.
  • Create a new medical marijuana testing advisory council and expand regulations for testing marijuana products.

“For the past five years, the legislature has tried to back down on marijuana,” Learned said in an interview. “I would say today is the first step forward, and there will be more.”

Delta-8 products are made from hemp, just like other legal over-the-counter products that contain cannabidiol or CBD. But the products, which can produce euphoric effects similar to medical or recreational cannabis, have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Under the Roach and Learned Bill, the state would require companies selling Delta-8 to register their products with the state, and no unmanageable hemp product could be sold to a Floridian under the age of 21.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who was a lobbyist for the cannabis industry before running for office, said she welcomed the clarity of Learned and Roach’s bill.

“I’ve always been a big supporter of expanding cannabis in the state of Florida, but doing it well,” Fried said. “We have to make sure that we protect consumers. “

Lawmakers and lobbyists say the bipartisan bill is a real compromise. It does not give more conservative lawmakers all the marijuana provisions they want. For example, a controversial policy limiting the amount of Delta-9 THC in marijuana sold to patients in Florida is not in the bill. Roach sponsored this measure during the 2021 session.

Related: Controversial Florida Medical Marijuana Bill “Actually Dead”

“I think the political moment for THC caps is over,” Roach said on Wednesday. “The new members coming to the Legislature appear to be younger and have a more libertarian streak, at least on the Republican side.”

The bill also does not contain measures on cannabis favored by some progressives, such as a provision preventing discrimination in the workplace for patients with cannabis.

But measures like the expansion of telehealth, which has become a flashpoint for some patients over the summer, are widely popular.

Related: Some medical marijuana patients worry about DeSantis coronavirus prescription ending

No complementary bill has been tabled in the Senate, but Learned announced at a press conference on Wednesday that a bill would be sponsored by Sens. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota and Shevrin Jones, D-Miami Gardens. Jones confirmed this in a text.

It is unclear whether Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls or Speaker of the Senate Wilton Simpson supports the measure. Their offices did not respond to email requests for comment.

“It’s refreshing to see a bipartisan effort, even if it is not (ultimately) successful,” said Ron Watson, a longtime lobbyist from Tallahassee who specializes in medical marijuana issues. .

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Cover of the Legislative Assembly of the Tampa Bay Times in Florida

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