In a move aimed at tightening regulations surrounding hemp products, the Florida House has taken up House Bill 1613: Hemp.
The bill was added to this session’s agenda by the Agriculture, Conservation & Resiliency Subcommittee, and it seeks to enforce various restrictions to ensure compliance with state law and to prevent the sale or distribution of hemp extract products that could appeal to children. Specifically, businesses and food establishments are prohibited from possessing hemp extract products that are designed to be attractive to minors.
This includes products packaged in a manner resembling familiar snacks or candies, featuring cartoonish imagery, or containing any color additives.
While the bill aims to streamline regulations and ensure consumer safety, concerns have been raised regarding its potential impact on businesses in Florida. Harley Sohot, manager of Tallulah CBD & Juicebar in Railroad Square, says their business has had to remove some products due to packaging design.
“We’ve already had a few brands that we’ve taken off of shelves because they have cartoon faces on their packages,” Sohot said.
“They [the company] have sent the repacked products so it’s really just a packaging thing. I have heard that we also will have to lower the milligrams on certain products too so it’s just up in the air.”
Before hosting an event featuring hemp extract products, organizers are required to submit a list of participating businesses to DACS and verify that each vendor is selling products sourced from approved channels. Failure to adhere to these regulations could result in administrative fines for violators.
Concerns have also been raised regarding the broad and vague language used in the bill, particularly regarding what constitutes products attractive to children. Florida resident and hemp user Jonathan Rimert says his most avid concern with the bill is the unclear language.
“My biggest concern with this bill is the verbiage, I think it leaves room for gray area,” Rimert said.
“What constitutes as being attractive to children? Is it a Star Wars emblem? Bluey emblem? What kind of packaging is ‘too much’?”
For parents who use hemp products, the issue of children’s access to these items is seen as multifaceted. While packaging and imagery play a role, some argue that the primary concern lies in the lack of adequate parental guidance on children’s access to these products. Florida resident and grandmother, Dondra Griffin says, the issue of children having access to these products is a parent-related issue.
“A lot of parents do not monitor what their children are looking at online, and they’ll find friends who may have access and eventually find their way around it,” Griffin said.
“Children are gullible so, they see a product and don’t understand when you take these medications, everything filters to your liver. Parents need to better monitor their kids because a child can view anything and think it’s hip or cool because it appears that way.”
The introduction of HB 1613 underscores the ongoing efforts of Florida lawmakers to address the complexities surrounding the hemp industry and to establish a framework that balances regulatory oversight with economic interests. As the bill progresses through the legislative process, stakeholders will closely monitor developments and advocate for measures that support a thriving and compliant hemp market in the state.