That provision is part of a comprehensive proposal to reform hemp laws in Florida that have been the law since 2019

Kassie Stuart was 17 years old when she was diagnosed with idiopathic genetic epilepsy, which can result in intense seizures.

Now 23, the Tallahassee resident says she’s tried 25 different medications to deal with her illness but nothing helped until she discovered delta-8 THC nearly four years ago. That’s a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant that hemp entrepreneurs created after the passage of the 2018 U.S. farm bill, which made the use of hemp extracts legal in the U.S.

Since she started using that product, she’s gone from having a couple of seizures a day to suffering from only one or two a year.

“I had my medical [marijuana] card for a little bit,” she says. “It was helping, but it wasn’t giving me the medical relief that I needed when I was introduced to delta-8 and it really helped me. I feel like if I’m ‘spazzy’ or ‘seizey’ or if I have a really bad headache, I can just hit my [vape] pen a couple of times or eat some edibles, and it goes away in a couple of minutes.”

However, if a bill that would regulate hemp products (HB 1613) is approved as currently written by the Florida Legislature, Stuart and others would no longer be allowed to legally consume such products. The Senate’s version, SB 1698, also would ban delta-8.

Delta-8 has psychoactive and intoxicating effects, according to the FDA. It’s currently banned in 17 states, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association. Still, the issue has become of concern in Florida because of people who swear that delta-8 provides medicinal benefits that other products do not.

Manatee County Republican Tommy Gregory brought his bill on Monday to the House Agriculture, Conservation and Resiliency Committee. He pitched it to the committee as a consumer protection bill to protect children from being attracted to hemp derived products.  The law last year prohibited the marketing that targets children and the packaging of such products that resemble candy that could be attractive to kids.

The new measure includes further moves in that direction – but also includes provisions to limit the amount of THC in hemp derived products by individual servings and packages – and would also ban synthetically or naturally occurring versions of controlled substances listed as delta-8 THC and Delta-10 THC.

The 2018 farm bill defined hemp as the cannabis plant with one key difference: hemp cannot contain more than 0.3 percent of THC. The most lucrative part of the hemp industry has involved the production of biomass that contains cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound believed to treat health conditions like anxiety, stress, anxiety and inflammation.

On Monday, there were more than a dozen people who work in the hemp industry who said that the bill if passed as written would devastate their businesses and imperil the entire hemp industry in the state.

But there were also several people who came before the committee to say that the hemp-derived products would either be eliminated or be reduced in terms of its potency.

Brandon Lee Eady suffered a C3 and C4 spinal cord injury from a car crash in 2011 that made him quadriplegic. He told the committee that after he was discharged from Tampa General Hospital after the incident, he was ingesting up to 40 prescription pills per day to deal with his physical pain, including oxycontin pain killers.

“Only through hemp and its derivatives such as delta-8, delta-9, CBD, its derivatives, and medicinal THC, I’ve been able to actually stand here before you today, prescription drug free,” he told the committee. “If you pass this bill…you will not only close thousands of businesses…but you will leave tens of thousands of people unemployed, but most importantly, you will leave hundreds of thousands of people like the ones that have come before you today, without proper means to deal with their respective pain, and they will have to resort to illegal or illicit methods to attain this.”

Republicans voted for the bill on Monday, but Democrats did not.

The Senate bill will go before its second and final scheduled committee meeting on Wednesday morning.

 

Source: floridaphoenix.com, Mitch Perry

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