Last week, the office of Nikki Fried, the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, took control of CBD products consumed by people. New rules went into effect on New Year’s Day. Nationally, and in Florida, the lack of regulation with CBD products raised concerns among many. Some product labels contain inaccurate or misleading information, some do not get tested, and some products contain harmful additives.
Fried, a Democrat, made cannabis and its regulation a vital part of her 2018 campaign. The same year, the Farm Bill went into effect, legalizing hemp with a THC content of less than 0.3% at the federal level. During the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers put the office in charge of creating the regulations associated with hemp, along with CBD products, sold at gas stations, grocery stores, and flea markets. Fried’s cannabis director Holly Bell told the News Service of Florida, “[Inspectors] are going out, looking at what’s on the shelf and if you are not compliant with those labeling laws, you will be given a certain amount of time to become compliant.” Those selling CBD have 30 to 45 days to comply with the law and must pay Fried’s department a fee of $650.
The rules include guidelines on pesticides, how packages are labeled, and the inspection of products that are sold or produced in Florida. The hemp rules include “ingestion,” or “the process of taking food into the body through the gastrointestinal tract through eating or drinking.” The regulations say, “Food consisting of or containing Hemp or Hemp Extract must be obtained from an Approved Source. The Hemp Food Establishment shall provide to the department, upon request, a valid food license/permit and the most recent food safety inspection report from the Approved Source.” Bell adds that “Prior to these rules being adopted and taking effect, we didn’t have regulatory authority. Now we do, and we have that up and going so that we can make sure consumers are protected.”
There are three divisions of Fried’s department in control of the program. According to the department’s official website, “The Division of Agricultural Environmental Services will oversee issues related to seeds, fertilizer, pesticides and animal feed, The Division of Food Safety will oversee the processing, manufacturing and retailing of hemp and hemp extract, and The Division of Plant Industry will oversee cultivation and licenses to cultivate hemp.” The site adds, “The Cultivation Rule should be filed for adoption in the first quarter of 2020. Please note that this rule is slightly delayed due to a need to align the Florida Cultivation Rule with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) final interim rules, which were released on October 31, 2019. FDACS still expects cultivation to happen in the first quarter of 2020.”
Those transporting hemp in any form in Florida must stop at one of the state’s 23 agricultural inspection stations and present a certificate of analysis showing the total THC content, as well as the bill of sale.
It is the cannabis industry’s hope that hemp and CBD products become well regulated on a national level in order to protect the consumer.