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SB1698 Was Vetoed - What's Next for Hemp and Blue Lotus Wellness


SB1698 Vetoed

You may have already heard that after sitting on SB1698 for three months, Governor DeSantis has used the power of his pen to veto a bill that would have been horribly damaging for the Hemp Industry in Florida. Oddly, my first reaction was not unmitigated joy, though I am extremely happy about a few aspects. 


So first, the really good news about SB1698 getting vetoed:


You will still find all of your favorite Hemp Derived products in Florida stores and online. Including all the IHDs (Intoxicating Hemp Derivatives).
100,000+ jobs and investments of many millions of entrepreneurial dollars in the state are secure beyond October 1.

The short and sweet version is that nothing changes for now in the overall industry.  If that is all you need to know – then celebrate with your favorite hemp infused drink, gummy, or vape and enjoy! For us specifically, many things will change. 


Blue Lotus Wellness and CBD is Moving Exclusively Online


Blue Lotus Wellness is moving exclusively online

We have thought long and hard about the uncertainty of the future of the Hemp Industry, the enormous overheads involved in a physical space, and the advantages of being able to extend our reach to wider audiences online. And we have decided to shut down the physical store and shift entirely online.


We are excited about the opportunity to focus on more educational content, to offer better value to our customers, and to, hopefully, increase our reach.


Absolutely nothing will change for those of you that already purchase online and have products shipped.

Our local customers should know that we would be honored should you shift your buying from in person to online. Products will still ship from Orlando, which means you will typically get them 24-48 hours after ordering them.  We will soon be adding subscriptions to the website as well, for those of you who want the convenience of automatic shipping. 


For people who are not comfortable shopping online, you may also order via phone. 

If you choose to find another local source where you can purchase in person, we understand and honor your decision and hope you will continue to “shop local.”


Our store will close July 31st and we will be clearing out all beverages, essential oils, and anything else that is not currently listed online.  We will also be clearing out fixtures, furniture, refrigerators, and décor items.  Please stop by if you are interested in obtaining any of these types of items. 



The Uncertain Legislative Future of Hemp – The Public Part


hemp farmer

We have already had many people ask us why, if the bill was vetoed, we are still closing the store.  It is incredibly complicated, so there is no simple answer. The bottom line is that the future remains very uncertain for a variety of reasons, some of which will be discussed here. Please be aware - this discussion involves political topics, and while I will try to stay objective, it is impossible to remove all opinions as these issues affect me directly. 


However, let me say up front that I respect anyone’s right to disagree and am happy to answer any questions or discuss the issues as they relate to the impact on consumers in Florida


While the industry breathed a collective sigh of relief over this news, the veto of 1698 is not the end of the story. DeSantis hinted at the longer term in his public remarks about the bill. He noted that next Spring he will encourage lawmakers to put in place more “reasonable regulations” to ensure product safety and protect consumers, especially children from IHDs.  Remember that many of those regulations already exist. Some can be enhanced, such as more rigorous testing or manufacturing requirements, but the industry is already regulated.  Those regulations have been poorly and inconsistently enforced, which has led to some justifiable criticism.


In his veto message, DeSantis said the legislation’s “goals are commendable” but that it “would, in fact, impose debilitating regulatory burdens on small businesses and almost certainly fail to achieve its purposes.”  This was true even when one only considers the public objectives.  In particular is the failure to achieve its purposes – which are completely undone by the fact that everything sold within the state can easily be ordered from outside it.  Further, the purpose of protecting children can already be accomplished through existing regulations, if they enforce them. 


Florida Regulations to be considered in 2025 include:

  1. Behind the Counter Sales – each store would require an employee to retrieve products for the customer.

  2. Additional record keeping requirements for Hemp Businesses, which could include consumer information, though more likely would be about inventory source tracking.

  3. Limiting the placement and number of retail businesses. That is, “reasonable proximity limits” to schools, churches and “places where families gather.”

  4. Random, unannounced inspections, standardized and repeated testing (which already exist), and dosing, packaging, and unit purchase caps that “better correspond to the character of the products and their intoxicating capabilities.” Reality check - this is the same governor that just signed a bill making it legal to purchase a 15-liter bottle of wine.  And it was the dosing and unit caps in 1698 that were the most damaging part of it for consumers and businesses alike.


The Legislative Future of Hemp – Behind Closed Doors


The legislative future of hemp in Florida Infographic

Before the veto occurred, it was made known on the industry forums and some public articles that he was considering it, and that the biggest reason he was considering it was not the opportunity to protect small businesses, nor the stated goal of the legislation to “protect Florida’s children.” Rather, it was the opportunity to recruit the Hemp Industry to help defeat recreational marijuana in the fall.  It was noted in one article that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”



Here are the existing facts in Florida:
  1. Medical Marijuana is currently legal in Florida, but only a select few major corporations are allowed to participate in the market.

  2. It was some of these corporations that led the efforts to shut down the Hemp Industry because, even though Hemp Derived THC is legal in the state via both federal and state hemp laws, their objective was eliminating competition.

  3. The narrative was that hemp is “unregulated,” “unsafe,” “synthetic,” and often “fake.”

  4. The hemp industry was characterized as child poisoners, illegal drug dealers targeting children, and filled with unscrupulous people.

  5. The reason the efforts to shut Hemp down were dialed up to maximum this year is that recreational marijuana will be on the Florida ballot in November. The Medical Marijuana Industry wants to own the entire THC market. 


The reality is that almost none of the narratives about hemp are true. I won’t deny for a second that there are bad actors who will do anything to make a buck in the industry. That is the case with all industries and the reason regulations must exist. However, most of us just want to help people and earn a living doing it.  And Florida hemp is regulated. If the current regulations were consistently enforced with perhaps a few additional safety testing requirements, there would be little to complain about.


Medical Marijuana had every reason to celebrate their victory when the legislation was passed. They made a deal to allow them to own the market and it looked like that would be the case.  But now the legislators they made the deal with don’t want them to expand. Enter the veto pen and the Governor’s side deal with the Hemp Industry to undermine efforts to increase access to cannabis in the state.


You will probably see many in the hemp industry putting out “fight corporate cannabis” campaigns. They will target the marijuana companies as peddling unsafe products filled with pesticides, only out for whatever money they can make, and generally being unscrupulous people who are unconcerned with what cannabis can do – other than get people high (sound familiar?).  Some of that is true in some cases.  Mostly, it’s just big business versus small – monopoly versus free market.   


In the Spring of 2025 (regardless of how people vote on recreational), the tables may flip again, and Hemp will be targeted - again. This battle has gone on in every state in the nation where cannabis is legal in any form.


The Legislative Future of Hemp – The Federal Government


The Legislative Future of Hemp

We wrote previously about the rescheduling of cannabis by the DEA – see our previous article for more details. This opens the door for big pharma to participate in a nationwide market for THC medications. Potentially good for consumer access.  Not so good for small and large cannabis businesses that have paved the way, legitimized the plant, funded extraordinary research advancements in cannabinoid science, and helped millions of people. 


Now, beyond rescheduling at the Federal level, the 2024 Federal Farm Bill has in it an amendment even worse than Florida 1698 for the Hemp Industry – it bans any product from being sold federally that contains any amount of any THC – including full spectrum CBD


The Hemp Round Table (an industry advocacy group) believes this is a “dead amendment” with no hope of passing. However, the fight for hemp will be fought in the halls of Congress in D.C. this fall. What has become a multi-billion-dollar industry through a combination of legislative omission and the beating heart of the American entrepreneur is on the table. 


This is an extremely complicated issue. It involves so many business owners, customers, state and federal regulators and legislators, and even law enforcement.  Everyone has a different opinion on what is best for them, best for consumers, best for the economy, and best for quality of life.  Opinions vary dramatically based on each person’s lived experience and objectives. 


The Bottom Line


If you ask anyone in the cannabis space – hemp, medical, or recreational (it is ALL cannabis), most will tell you they believe some version of this:


Cannabis should be legal, reasonably regulated for both safety and public consumption (like alcohol), subject to sales tax (not extra taxes), accessible to adults and available as a business opportunity to anyone with the courage, capital, and the knowledge to enter the space. 

The entire battle over who can sell what and how many ways we can slice the legality will never be over unless Corporate Cannabis, Small Business Cannabis, Hemp, regulators, and consumers alike are not only willing to believe what is written above, but to actually act on it – instead of allowing “what is best for me” to supersede “what is best for thee.”


As for us at Blue Lotus, we are taking action to preserve as much of our business for as long as we can by reducing overheads and focusing on serving and educating as many people as possible.  We will continue to be here for our clients as long as we are able to safely and legally operate. We will just be available via phone, video, email, and online rather than in a physical store. 


We very much hope to see you, in person, or online soon!


Questions? Call us at 407-235-0653, chat right here or email info@bluelotuswellnessandcbd.com

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1 comentário


Lindsay Thorpe
Lindsay Thorpe
24 de jun.

Thanks for keeping us all up to date! I will miss coming in store, but hopefully this move will grow your business and lead to more success.

Curtir
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