If you’re a CBD consumer visiting Florida or living there, you may be wondering: is CBD legal in Florida?
The sunshine state is known for its expansive everglades and beautiful beaches. Still, the sunshine provides more than just a vacation destination – it’s also an essential aspect of Florida’s massive agricultural industry.
A top producer of sugar cane and cattle, and with acres and acres devoted to greenhouses, nurseries, and, of course, oranges and other citrus crops, it seems only natural for Florida to take an interest in one of the most up-and-coming agricultural commodities: hemp and CBD.
Here’s a quick guide to Florida’s CBD laws and how to become a part of the hemp industry.
Florida CBD Laws
CBD was not legal in Florida until 2019 when Senate Bill 1020 was enacted and legalized hemp, hemp derivatives, and hemp products.
This relatively recent change came after decades of illegalization, resulting from the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
The Controlled Substances Act was federally imposed legislation that the U.S. government created to regulate drugs and substances considered to have high abusive or addictive potential and a low propensity for medical uses.
When the Federal government passed the CSA, the most prevalent and seemingly concerning drugs were rank-ordered and placed on a drug schedule list, which designated their needed level of control.
The drug schedule contained five tiers, with Schedule I substances being the most dangerous, addictive, and illegal, and Schedule IV drugs being the least.
The original list of drugs placed in the Schedule I category included heroin, LSD, ecstasy, peyote, and cannabis at the time of CSA passage.
The use of the term “cannabis” as shorthand for the plant’s scientific name, Cannabis Sativa, represented marijuana, hemp, and CBD, making all three illegal at the federal level.
This definition failed to recognize that although hemp and marijuana are both subspecies of cannabis, they are also two different plant types altogether.
Marijuana is a cannabis variety containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid that produces the “high” associated with weed.
Hemp, which also contains an abundance of cannabinoids, contains only trace amounts of THC and instead contains many non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD.
Still, cannabis remained on the schedule representing marijuana, hemp, and their byproducts for nearly 50 years.
Then, in 2018, after decades of scientific research and attempts to remove cannabis from the drug schedule, the federal government revised its decision to schedule marijuana under cannabis and undo their inclusion of hemp as a scheduled substance.
This change officially occurred after passing the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018.
Also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, this legislation confirmed that marijuana and hemp are two distinct varieties of the cannabis Sativa plant and provided the opportunity for hemp and CBD to be removed from the drug schedule.
While hemp and CBD are federally legal today, marijuana remains on the CSA drug schedule as a category one drug.
Approximately a year after the Farm Bill was enacted, Florida Senate Bill 1020 legalized hemp, hemp extracts (such as CBD) and declared that cannabinoids derived from hemp are not considered controlled substances in Florida.
These provisions are permitted so long as the hemp and hemp products do not contain more than 0.3 percent THC, a caveat per federal regulations typical of most statutory governing agencies.
The same year, Florida Senate Bill 182 was passed, which expanded on the state’s existing medical marijuana program and allowed medical marijuana patients to use certified medical cannabis products with THC amounts greater than 0.3 percent.
How Do I Get My Florida Hemp Cultivation License?
Hemp cultivation is regulated by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Florida residents seeking to receive a hemp cultivation license must complete the department’s hemp cultivation license application and a background check and obtain related permits.
Background checks include fingerprinting and must be submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and renewed every year.
Before applying for a hemp cultivation license, applicants must submit their Hemp Containment and Transportation Plan, an environmentally conscious plan required by the Florida Division of Plant Industry intended to protect the state’s land, waterways, and the agricultural industry throughout every step of cultivation and harvest.
Once applying for a cultivation license, applicants must report the designated Responsible Person and Control Person involved in hemp cultivation.
The Responsible Person is the party responsible for managing cultivation operations, while the Control Person is the individual or party who can oversee legal policy management.
Applicants then need to provide the location on which they intend to grow and harvest their crops and the size of their hemp lots.
Currently, there is no minimum or maximum acreage requirement, and growers do not have to own the land on which they plan to cultivate hemp.
Upon receiving a hemp cultivation license, growers must sign up for the Agricultural Best Management Practices program.
This program ensures hemp growers will be compliant with the state’s water quality and standards.
Florida hemp cultivation licenses are good for twelve months from when they were issued and, once expired, must be renewed.
Florida Hemp Seeds
Licensed hemp cultivators cannot use proprietary hemp seeds or plant hemp clones.
Instead, cultivators may only use certified hemp seeds from accredited Industrial Hemp Pilot Programs.
These programs are headed by state-approved universities or institutions whose seeds can be identified by Pilot Project Hemp Seed labels.
Selling hemp seeds and clones requires a separate Seed Dealer License and nursery or stock registration with the Florida Department of Agriculture.
Florida CBD Food Products:Establishment Permits
While the federal government has loosened the reins on cannabis to some extent, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still refrains from allowing hemp food products, supplements, or additives to be federally legal.
The FDA’s decision to refrain from permitting CBD in consumable products influences many states, which choose to align with federal law and limit CBD products intended for edible consumption.
However, Florida allows its hemp agriculture sector to include the manufacturing and selling of consumable hemp extract products.
Any establishment wanting to sell consumable hemp extract must receive one of two types of Hemp Food Establishment Permits from the Division of Food Safety.
Retail Food Establishment Permits can be obtained by retail hemp food facilities that intend to prepare or sell consumable hemp extract. In contrast, Wholesale Food Establishment Permits are needed for those who conduct hemp food manufacturing, processing, packing, holding, and preparation.
Continued Cannabis Education: Florida Gulf Coast University’s Cannabis Certification Program
For Floridians interested in a more in-depth understanding of the state’s cannabis industry, Florida Gulf Coast University offers a Cannabis Professional Certificate Program that students can complete online.
This intensive class divides its curriculum into four distinct sections over four different weeks.
The first week focuses on planting, cultivation, and extraction and offers an overview of the cannabis plant, its growth cycle, and methods of cannabinoid extraction.
The second week examines cannabis physiology and pharmacology and the therapeutic uses of cannabis, including the effects of cannabis on the human body, appropriate dosage and administration techniques, and uses of cannabis within the medical field.
Week three covers the legal, business, tax, and insurance aspects of the cannabis industry, including state and federal laws and cannabis accounting.
The final section of classes includes a historical overview of cannabis, societal perceptions of cannabis over time, demographic aspects of cannabis use and the cannabis industry, and making cannabis edibles.
Whether you’re a Floridian hoping to home-grow CBD in your hometown or a visitor looking into tourist attractions, keep an eye out for Florida’s newest draw: CBD.