The issues surrounding cannabis and its derivative products have been the topic of hot debates across the globe, and particularly in the United States. The main bone of contention is whether or not cannabis should be legalized. Studies suggest that many cannabis components may offer medical benefits, but some people have a hard time dealing with the psychotic effects of one particular derivative, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). In recent years, both federal and Florida state laws have been changed to accommodate the use of some cannabis-derived products. So, is CBD legal in Florida? In this post, we’ll help you understand CBD’s legality within the state of Florida.
What Is CBD?
CBD oil is a plant-based product that, when consumed or applied, may trigger certain beneficial effects in your body. CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of the active components of the Cannabis Sativa plant, alongside over 100 other cannabinoids. Today, most legal CBD is derived from industrial hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant with a THC concentration below 0.3%.
CBD is the second most abundant cannabinoid in the Cannabis Sativa plant, while THC takes first place. These two components have a plethora of potential benefits, but THC also results in psychotic effects for its users. Now, for both cannabinoids, their effects in your body are a result of how their components interact with your endocannabinoid system (ECS), a regulatory part of your body charged with balancing your bodily functions.
Research suggests CBD oil benefits may include:
- Anti-inflammatory or antioxidant properties
- Could reduce symptoms of stress
- May help with sleeplessness
- Potential to help manage the symptoms of epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease
Why Might CBD Be Illegal?
If you want to understand the challenge for federal and state governments, you must consider that the legal issue is not specific to CBD, but with its close ties to THC. You see, hemp strains of cannabis do not contain enough THC to produce intoxicating effects. Still, in 1970, all cannabis-related plants and products were banned under the Federal Controlled Substance Act. The law placed all cannabis-related products in the Schedule I category, which is reserved for substances that have a high potential for abuse, no proven medical use, and can easily lead to addiction.
Fast forward to 2018: President Donald Trump signed the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 that legalized industrial hemp cultivation. This law created a loophole that paved the way for the sanctioned use of some cannabis-derived products. From here, hemp and cannabis products were considered separate legal entities.
To review, hemp is defined as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% of THC by weight, and marijuana is hemp that contains more than this amount. Due to this distinction, marijuana remains under the Schedule I category.
The Farm Bill gave the United States Food and Drug Administration the mandate to regulate CBD labeling, usage, and claims used to sell it. As a result, the FDA still prohibits hemp-derived CBD from being marketed or sold as a food additive or dietary supplement. This stance may not be permanent, however, as the FDA is still evaluating the rules. But, in the meantime, vendors are on high alert as the FDA is still unclear on their regulations, meaning it’s easy to end up on the wrong side of the law.
The Farm Bill also mandates that states can regulate and even ban the cultivation and sale of hemp in their borders. Which is why it’s especially important to know the rules that apply in Florida.
What Are the Florida CBD Laws?
As we know from federal laws, the statutes surrounding CBD have changed a lot in recent years. States have moved swiftly to adjust to new federal laws, and Florida is no exception. Let’s take a look at some of the laws to help us better understand if CBD legal in Florida.
In 2014, Florida signed into law a bill governing CBD oil consumption. This law (SB-1030) legalized the use of CBD oil with low traces of THC for medical purposes. It specified that only patients who qualify under the state-approved program were allowed to use CBD. In the first phase, CBD was legalized for patients suffering from seizures, cancer, spasms, and terminal illnesses. These individuals were required to get a doctor’s approval to purchase and use medical cannabis that contains more than 10% CBD and less than 0.8% THC.
Two years later, voters approved the second amendment, expanding the scope of the marijuana program, but not allowing the use of smokable forms. A few months later, the Florida Supreme Court nullified the ban on smokable marijuana, which allowed for the signing of a new bill governing its consumption.
In March 2019, lawmakers approved SB 182, which was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. From this point on, patients who qualified for the medical marijuana program could freely consume medical cannabis containing high levels of both CBD and THC.
Out of all these bills, the most important one that still defines the use of marijuana in Florida is SB 1020, passed in July 2019. It introduced several changes:
- It adjusted medical cannabis specifications following the Federal 2018 Farm Bill and legalized hemp, which is cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC.
- It legalized hemp extracts, defined as any substance that is produced from legal hemp plants that do not contain any other controlled substance
- It outlined that hemp-derived cannabinoids are not controlled substances
Today, manufacturers or vendors who want to grow and process hemp plants and its extracts, such as CBD oil, must apply for a license. All products coming from these entities must be tested by a licensed independent lab to ensure that they contain no more than the legally specified THC levels.
Florida has not set any limits on the amount of legal CBD oil anyone is allowed to possess. However, patients with a physician’s recommendation can buy up to four ounces of cannabis from state-licensed dispensaries.
Where Can You Buy CBD in Florida?
As with any supplement, you can’t just buy CBD oil from any dealer. While the state requires that all vendors hold a state license, we all know that some individuals will bypass this law. And this should be a warning sign that their products may not include their advertised contents.
You can find CBD oil products online, in convenience stores and CBD shops…really, they’re everywhere right now. We know, it can be confusing, so here’s an important tip: when buying CBD online, find brand-specific websites that specifically deal with a particular type of CBD oil product.
Look for important product information, including the CBD and THC concentration, supplementary information, potency, and other ingredients included in the product. Learn to read packages and labels, and always check whether the product you’re buying is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate. This information is essential to you as it specifies the ingredients present in the product apart from CBD. Isolate CBD oil is the purest form, and it contains no other ingredients. Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains CBD, additional cannabinoids and terpenes, but no THC. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains terpenes and other cannabinoids, including trace amounts of THC. Many people prefer to buy full-spectrum CBD oil, to enjoy the entourage effect, where cannabinoids work synergistically to enhance effects in your body.
What’s the Bottom Line?
The CBD laws in Florida are changing quickly, so it’s important to stay up to date with the regulations. After all, any new bills may change the way people sell and consume CBD oil in the state. This is especially true since lobbyists are pushing for the full legalization of cannabis, and there is a chance that it might already be available for sale in popular stores. Even if available, be careful to stay within the current legal guidelines for cannabis use. This means you can buy any form of CBD you choose, so long as it has a THC concentration below 0.3%. And, to ensure that your product is actually within those legal boundaries, stick to brands with third-party tests to back up claims of legal concentrations and ingredients.