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Did Florida Just Legalize Cannabis?

Did Florida just legalize cannabis? Over the last month, the Florida hemp industry has been lobbying against a proposal to regulate hemp products heavily.

Since the 2018 Farm Bill re-legalized hemp across the United States, Florida’s hemp entrepreneurs have created thousands of jobs.

According to the Farm Bill, hemp becomes illegal cannabis when it contains more than 0.3 percent THC. But States have gotten around the loophole by using Delta-8 THC. A measure in the Florida House threatened to close this loophole.

As Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson told the press, “Let me be clear—the current wild, wild west situation, selling anything to anybody, is going to end. We will close the loopholes in state law being exploited to sell euphoric recreational cannabis products without restrictions.”

Except they didn’t. In fact, Florida lawmakers went the other direction. They eliminated Delta-8 THC caps altogether.

Did Florida legalize cannabis? No, Delta-9 THC is still a controlled substance. But with no limits on the other cannabinoids, Florida’s hemp market is notably freer than many legal states or even legal Canada.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has made Florida an example for the world. From opposing lockdowns, mandates, domestic passports, and woke child grooming – now they can even point to the superiority of their hemp industry.

Did Florida Just Legalize Cannabis? No, But…

Did Florida just legalize cannabis? No, but at this point, they might as well have. As Manatee County House Republican Will Robinson Jr. said: “All caps are O.U.T., Out.”

Robinson referred to the amendment to HB 1475 that removes all caps or limits on THC in hemp products. Initially, Robinson’s bill capped THC to 5 milligrams per serving or 50 milligrams per package.

Nikki Fried, former state Agriculture Commissioner and now chair of the Florida Democratic Party, told the Florida Phoenix: “The exact intent of this bill is to eliminate 189,000 jobs and 10,000 small businesses.”

But as Robinson said: “It’s very important to take input from stakeholders and others.”

And the stakeholders certainly gave their input. Over the past month, many travelled to the Capitol to advocate against cannabinoid limits.

So while, no, Florida didn’t just legalize cannabis, their government did back down on a significant hemp restriction. One that would have effectively ended their quasi-legalization by capping delta-8 THC at 5 milligrams per serving.

But hemp entrepreneurs won, and Florida’s hemp market remains free. Or relatively free. 

Overall, the bill will keep hemp products illegal for anyone under 21. There are rules concerning packaging, labelling, and testing. Packaging cannot be “attractive to children” and must minimize exposure.

But the amendment to limit the various cannabinoids, including delta-8 THC, was struck down.

A Lesson for Canada (And Vermont and Connecticut)

Did Florida Just Legalize Cannabis? A Lesson for Canada

Unfortunately, Florida did not legalize cannabis. But fortunately, they’re just one pen stroke away from doing so.

Cannabis prohibition is obviously unconstitutional. And since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has no problem butting heads with DC, what’s stopping him from legalizing weed in Florida?

“He’s a Republican!” some may argue, which is true. Under a previous Republican governor (Rick Scott), medical cannabis patients had to fight for their rights in court. 

Like medical cannabis in Canada during the Stephen Harper years, progress came from the judiciary, not the legislature.

And then Ron DeSantis became governor. The Florida government stopped fighting medical cannabis patients in the courts. Under Ron’s watch, the Florida Department of Health has become pro-medical cannabis.

If any state or country were to implement a free and fair market in cannabis, the top contender right now would be Florida under the stewardship of Ron DeSantis.

While Florida doesn’t have legal cannabis, they are an example of the kind of economic damage THC caps can do. For, the art of economics is to see the unseen.

Florida has thousands of hemp businesses. Think of the lost potential in Canada, Vermont or Connecticut.  

Canada limits their edible THC content to 10 mg. According to industry stakeholders, this cap is basically a multi-million dollar gift to the black market. And we see this in the data, where legal edibles are some of the least popular categories.

Additionally, Health Canada targets extract products they consider “edibles,” resulting in at least one lawsuit from a licensed producer.

In America, Vermont and Connecticut have THC caps. At the same time, other states like California flirt with the concept.

THC Caps Don’t Work

The idea is that THC caps are a “useful tool” to prevent “harmful” overconsumption. 

But what constitutes overconsumption? That answer will depend on the individual, their tolerance and their desired level of being stoned.

And what’s harmful about cannabis? Especially if you compare it to legal substances like alcohol, tobacco, or high-fructose corn syrup.

Ultimately, THC caps are not a “useful tool” unless your goal is to support an underground, untaxed market of cannabis. 

Adults are not children who need their hands held by public health bureaucrats. Failure to understand this will only frustrate you. Assuming you think THC caps are a useful tool that Florida should implement when they do eventually legalize cannabis. 

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