Updated: Jun 24
I recently attended the Senate Agricultural Committee meeting to speak against Florida Senate Bill 1676. this Bill will end our industry if passed. It made it out of this first step and was approved with a 6-2 vote in that committee. So, next it will be presented to Florida House and Senate members, and if it passes there, will be given to the governor for final approval. Blue Lotus has been working with other members of the Hemp Industry to prevent this Bill from passing, to protect our businesses, our livelihoods, and our customers.
The Hemp Industries in Florida and other states are in peril and are under attack by marijuana monopolists who are attempting to shut us down. They are not attempting to regulate, or to make hemp products safer for the consumer, but to END us. This article and video are not about advertising my business or selling you anything. They are about advocating for my entire industry and making our supporters aware of our potential extermination.
Whether you have ever personally used a Hemp product or whether you simply care about small business, we are asking for your support.
This article and accompanying videos will contain 5 parts in addition to this introduction. Choose the parts or parts that most interest you.
Part 1 – Who is the Hemp industry and why MSOs (multi-state operators in the cannabis space) are attempting to shut us down and How the specific bills in Florida, which are mirrored in other states, will effectively end the industry.
Part 2 – The arguments being used to support the bills and why many of them are not reasonable.
Part 3 – The impact on the consumer.
Part 4 – The economic impact on the state of Florida, which we are sure is similar in Virginia, Maryland, Washington State, Louisiana, and Arkansas where similar attempts are occurring.
Part 5 – What you can do to help stop it.
This is not a partisan issue. This article and video is not meant to criticize any party or specific politician. This is the age old battle of big business versus small and special interests versus local interests.
PART 1 - WHO IS THE HEMP INDUSTRY - AND HOW THESE BILLS WILL DESTROY US
The Hemp industry includes small and large retailers, manufacturers and suppliers, farmers, ingredient and packing suppliers, distributors and most importantly, the consumers of the products we provide.
Multi-State Operators in the cannabis space are now multi-billion-dollar corporations that have effectively locked small players out of the cannabis space in many states, certainly in Florida. They have done this by leveraging political influence to make the barriers to entry so high that no small business can possibly get a license – effectively eliminating any competition before they were even in business. There are currently only 22 Medical Marijuana License holders in this state. That is one for every 3 counties or 1 for every million people. My belief and that of many in the industry is that the attempt now in Florida and other states is to shut down smaller players in the Hemp industry for two reasons.
1. We provide a level of competition now with alternative cannabinoids.
2. This ensures there will be no one left standing if recreational cannabis is finally approved.
The ways these bills attack the industry is simple. First, they exclude Delta-8 THC and similar compounds from the definition of Hemp (presumably banning them, but that isn’t completely clear) Second, they impose a THC cap that is not possible with any hemp product, from raw flower to finished products. Third they redefine “total THC” to include all isomers like Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, as well as the famous Delta-9 THC. This includes things like full spectrum CBD oils and gummies. So, even though these products are not intoxicating, the proposed cap will make them illegal.
For example, the Florida Senate Bill 1676 on lines 139-40, impose a serving size limit of .5mg and a total package limit of 2mg total THC.
Some simple math –1oz (30ml) is a little more than 28g, so approx. 28,000mg
0.3% THC (the current limit) allows up to 84mg of THC in a 1oz full spectrum CBD oil.
Our average is about 45mg (about ½ the legal limit).
But that same 45mg is 22 times the proposed legal limit. Update 2pm 3/22/23 – they are now saying 25mg per package, .5mg per serving. This makes Full spectrum CBD gummies limited to about 15mg CBD each, and 25 gummies per package. We sell full spectrum gummies as high as 100mg CBD a piece. Our customers who benefit from this dose would need to eat more than 6 gummies per dose to receive the amount of CBD that they need.
And remember full spectrum CBD products are not intoxicating and very rarely will even cause a detectable limit of THC in a consumer’s body. The proposed serving size would limit our customers to a serving size of 1/3 of a dropper. And you could only purchase a 1.2ml bottle of CBD oil!!! That’s less than is in a ketchup packet!
PART 2 – WHAT ARGUMENTS ARE THERE FOR THESE BILLS?
First – When Florida Senate Bill 1676 was introduced by Senator Burton she said that she wished she could call it a “food safety” bill and that she wants to protect the state’s children. But Wait – Lines 134 and 135 say “Products that are intended for human ingestion or inhalationand contain hemp extract.” So, it clearly isn’t just about food, it’s about vape and smoke as well. And inhalation products are already adult use products with the corresponding legal age requirement. It obviously isn’t just about protecting children.
A second reason given for Florida needing to act is that other States have already acted to Ban or regulate Delta-8 THC. Therefore, Florida should follow suit. True – that is a fact. Lots of states have acted against Delta-8 THC. Three of them are prohibitionist states generally, some with restrictive CBD laws as well, for example Idaho. The rest of them all have legal recreational cannabis. For example, Nevada and Colorado. So, what’s really behind the Delta-8 bans? Could it be that the marijuana lobby in recreational states was powerful enough to shut down competition from Hemp in it’s infancy? What do you think?
A third reason is that cannabinoids like Delta-8 THC are “synthetically derived” and therefore unsafe. The simple version of this is that most Delta-8 THC is manufactured in bulk by using an acidic PH wash to convert CBD isolate into Delta- 8 THC. We can argue whether that truly meets the definition of synthetic, but regardless, saying that synthetic chemicals are inherently unsafe means that vitamin C and aspartame must be pulled from
all shelves. Goodbye diet coke. The truth is that the process can be perfectly safe and the industry is happy to conform to manufacturing standards that ensure that. Good businesses already do. For example, we ensure that all of our products are tested in a lab to rule our residual solvent contamination from the conversion product.
The last reason given for support of the bill was Protecting Florida’s children from access to intoxicating products. This is fair and reasonable. Good actors in the Hemp Industry already take steps to ensure it doesn’t get into the hands of children. We are all happy for the legal age requirement for product purchase to be 21+. We are also happy to adopt “behind the counter” rules and additional child safety packing requirements, such as ensuring that packaging does not imitate child-marketed candies. These reasonable guidelines would be like what Kentucky has done. But, this Bill is not limited to such regulations, and would make it nigh impossible to sell almost any of the products we currently carry.
In keeping with the “save our children” theme, an emotional story about a child being served a Delta-8 THC cakepop was presented at the recent Senate hearing as the reason this “horrible product” must be banned. That child suffered no permanent injury. I want to be clear – I am not trying to minimize the trauma of someone having their child get ahold of a product that they shouldn’t. However, using stories about the very few children that have gotten ahold of their parents Delta-8 candy as justification for regulating an industry out of business means that we must ALSO look at the Medical Marijuana patients whose child has gotten ahold of Mom’s weed, the teens who raided Mom’s liquor cabinet and medicine cabinet, and products like Tide pods.
As many of you know, I am a parent myself. I would never have wanted my daughter getting into any dangerous substances when she was a child. I called poison control once because she got ahold of my husbands shoe polish as a baby and had put it in her mouth. But I also understand that this does not mean anyone should ban shoe polish.
The bottom line – reasonable regulations are typically in everyone’s best interest. However, the absolute fact is that dying from THC overdose is unheard of. Unpleasant side effects can certainly occur with high doses of THC. But, fundamentally, hemp is orders of magnitude safer than many medications and is safer than alcohol. Fear based prohibition is never a good solution.
PART 3 – HOW THESE BILLS IMPACT THE CONSUMER
Even if you don’t use or support THC products, you need to be aware that this bill will ban CBD products as well. See Part 1 for why this is true.
This means my elderly mother will be denied her relief. People suffering from anxious feelings, stress, sleeplessness, trauma, and dozens of other conditions that find relief through non-intoxicating Hemp, will be denied access to those products, forced to go out of state or into a dispensary (which is, of course, their whole point).
I also feel compelled to point out here that there are many, many parents who rely on CBD products for their kids. There are a myriad of attention and neurological conditions that parents find CBD helpful for. We have personally had several sent here by their pediatrician. So, an unintended consequence of this bill is that “protecting children” from the evils of THC means hurting the children that need CBD.
And obviously, if you use THC products like Delta-8 THC, whether for symptom management or just relaxation, you will be denied access to anything with an effective dose. Again, unless you go out of state or into a dispensary.
Even for medical marijuana card holders – there are many who use CBD products from the Hemp Industry in conjunction with their dispensary products because we have greater variety and methods available. Per many of my customers, Medical Marijuana is typically focused almost exclusively on THC products, with CBD as an afterthought. When they want a CBD product for daytime use or when they are taking a tolerance break, they turn to our industry. There are also many who turn to us when they have surpassed their monthly allotment in the dispensaries.
For consumers who do not use Hemp products at all – you may be inconvenienced as well because many Hemp establishments carry other products in addition to their cannabis-derived items. For example, functional beverages with herbal ingredients, essential oils, non-psychoactive mushroom products, herbal remedies, or healthful supplements. Or shops may offer Hemp fiber products like clothing and backpacks.
If anyone you know and love purchases Hemp products – they will be forced to look outside the state if this legislation passes.
PART 4 - THE ECONOMIC IMPACT ON THE STATE OF FLORIDA
The impact is a little bit hard to derive because there is no consolidated place where all the sales data resides. The one fact that is 100% verified:
Over 10,000 Hemp licenses have been issued in the state. 9500 are retailers, the remainder are manufacturers, wholesalers, and extractors. This represents almost $7,000,000 in just license fees collected by Florida. We realize this is nothing in the grand scheme of state revenue. But, the real impact is the tax revenue and wages collected by those 10,000 license holders.
The facts based on industry survey:
The estimated number of jobs in the industry is almost 190,000.
Estimated wages paid in Hemp jobs is $6.8 billion
51% of respondents indicated that if these bills pass they will go out of business permanently. 15% said they will move out of state. This means job losses in excess of 125,000 and taxable revenue losses to the state of $9 billion. That’s represents a little short of 600 million in sales tax revenue.
Wow – we may be fragmented, we may be made up of mostly small players, but we have a huge impact as a collective.
Florida advertises that it is “open for business,” so it seems incredibly counterproductive to shut down such a thriving industry. I don’t have estimates for the other states, but some quick math based on relative population puts up some big numbers there as well.
PART 5 – WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
The easy part – support your local Hemp business now more than ever. Encouragement can go a long way when facing your own extinction.
The minimal contribution we ask of you is to sign the petition to stop them. The link is here:
Even better would be to pick up the phone or type out an email to the committee members and your representatives:
A step above is to donate to the cause for advocacy in the industry
https://healthyflorida.org/. You may also be able to donate through your local retailer. Here at Blue Lotus we are more than happy to serve as the conduit for your donation.
Don’t live in Florida? Visit Hemp Roundtable’s State Action Center to see what’s happening where you live. https://hempsupporter.com/state-action
We know that some people will not want or be able to get involved politically for privacy reasons. We ask that if that’s the case – help us get the word out in any way you can.
In closing, the assertion that these bills are about protecting Florida’s children or making consumers safer and preventing harm is patently untrue on its face. This is demonstrated by the last paragraph of the bill, which excludes the 22 Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers in Florida from having to follow any of the rules in it. So, if THC is inherently dangerous and these rules must be followed to protect children, why would 22 major businesses get an exclusion and 10,000 little ones be required to follow them?
We are all smarter than that. Please, don’t let special interests destroy our entire, thriving, and still very young industry. Join us in the fight!