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AGs from 20 states call on Congress to change hemp definition

FL’s Ashley Moody isn’t among them


A bipartisan group of 20 state attorneys general and the AG of the District of Columbia sent a letter to congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. last week, calling on them to address the “glaring vagueness” created in the 2018 farm bill that they say has led to the “proliferation of intoxicating hemp products across the nation.”

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody was not among those signing the letter, but perhaps she didn’t think she needed to be, given that the Florida Legislature passed a bill earlier this month (SB 1698) that does much of what the attorneys general across the country are asking for.

The Florida bill creates a new definition of lawful hemp that outlaws many current legal cannabinoids and imposes new THC caps on hemp-derived products. THC is the main component in cannabis that provides the psychoactive or “high” effect.

Meanwhile, Congress still hasn’t addressed the farm bill when it comes to redefining hemp, which is what prompted the state attorneys general from blue and red states alike to ask the chairs and vice chairs of the agriculture committees in the U.S. Senate and House to address the issue soon.

“This year’s anticipated reauthorization of the Farm Bill and the need for this reauthorization to make much-needed improvements to the statute established in 2018 comes at a critical time, as our states are being tested in our efforts to regulate these potentially dangerous products,” the AG’s wrote. “These intoxicating hemp products, by virtue of their potential hazard to consumers, must be regulated by each state. The definition of hemp should be amended to clarify that there is no federal hemp intoxicants loophole, and the 2023 reauthorization should reaffirm that members of Congress do not intend to limit states in restrictions or regulations related to cannabinoids or any other derivatives of hemp which are deemed intoxicating.”

The U.S. Hemp Roundtable, an organization that represents the hemp industry, is telling its members to call on Congress to protect the current definition of hemp under federal law.

“[B]y suggesting that Congress change the definition of ‘hemp’ – without specifying how – mischief could ensure which could likely result in the federal criminalization of currently-legal and popular hemp products. As we have seen in some states, efforts like this have even resulted in bans of non-intoxicating full-spectrum CBD products.”

While Moody did not respond to the Phoenix’s request for comment about the letter, Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson did.

“I think it is appropriate for Congress to address hemp nationally,” Simpson told the Phoenix on Monday. “Florida, like many other states, is seeing too many consequences of the hemp loophole. We acted based on the advice of law enforcement and health care professionals. This commonsense law will save lives.”

The Florida bill would ban not only delta-8 THC, but also delta-10 THC and other compounds. It also puts a cap on the amount of THC in hemp-derived products to 5 milligrams per individual servings, and 50 milligrams per container, leading to criticism from members of the hemp industry that those caps are so low that it will reduce demand for the items and could drive them out of business.

But Manatee County Republican Tommy Gregory, who sponsored the bill on the House, said on the floor earlier this month that if it were up to him, there would be zero milligrams per serving.

“I wish we could go to zero, but we don’t have the votes here today to do that. And some of my colleagues agree with me that we should just ban them all right now,” he said.

Since its passage by the Legislature earlier this month, opponents of the bill have been calling on the governor to veto it.

“By classifying products like CBD, including well-known strains such as Charlotte’s Web, as controlled substances, SB 1698 will shut down over 5,000 licensed local businesses, and the livelihoods of over 64,000 employees earning $7.3 billion in wages,” reads a form letter that the Florida Healthy Alternatives Association is asking their members to send to DeSantis.

“This will be a devastating loss of jobs and economic stability for countless families. Many of these businesses moved to the Free State of Florida to escape rampant government over control in states like California and this bill will pull the rug out from under their feet.”

The Legislature has yet to send the bill to the governor. Once received, he’ll have 15 days to sign the measure, veto it, or do nothing and allow it to become law.

Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Florida Phoenix maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Diane Rado for questions: info@floridaphoenix.com. Follow Florida Phoenix on Facebook and Twitter.


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  • Cat L

    I don't understand why people still think DeSantis is a supporter of freedom. I have lost rights, and am in a far more challenging economic situation since he came into office, (despite making more) and he ABSOLUTELY does NOT support home rule, look at what's happening to Annamaria...

    What he is good at is spinning a story into advantageous publicity and encouraging American on American hate.

    Wednesday, March 27 Report this