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Florida bill would add extra safety guidelines for hemp products

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(The Center Square) — A Florida bill has been advanced this week that would add extra guidelines and safety measures for hemp products sold in the Sunshine State to ensure consumer safety.

House Bill 1613 is sponsored by state Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Lakewood Ranch, and would provide conditions for possession, manufacture, delivery, hold, offer for sale, distribution, or sale of hemp extract. Businesses and food establishments would be prohibited from possession of any hemp products that may be attractive to children.

Gregory said while introducing his bill to the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee on Monday that the bill deals with further regulation into the hemp industry in Florida.

According to Gregory, the bill has an indeterminate fiscal impact on the state – related to the cost for testing of product potency, staff, and the law enforcement required to oversee that process.

Gregory further stated that he is unaware of what the fiscal impact would be on the state’s medical marijuana industry but that it would be “positive.”

Jonathan Soloman, a Florida hemp-based business owner, disagreed and opposed the bill, stating it would cost his own business at least 24 jobs.

“The passing of HB 1613 will kill 100,000 jobs here in Florida,” Soloman said. “That’s over $10 billion in taxable revenue in Florida.”

The bill would require that hemp extract can only be manufactured, delivered, held, offered for sale, distributed, or sold in the state of Florida if the product has a certificate of analysis prepared by an independent testing laboratory or if the batch contains no more than 0.3% of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration.

Hemp batches must be processed in a facility with a valid permit from a human health or food safety authority, must not contain any contaminants that would be unsafe for human consumption and the facility must have documented compliance with health and safety standards.

Gregory noted that the bill is not designed to criminalize any behavior but is designed to be a consumer protection tool. Packaging would be required to have the toll-free number for the National Poison Control Hotline, a requirement added by Gregory who stated there have been instances of Floridians needing help after taking these products.

“All you have to do is look at the data, so in 2016 there were a total of eight phone calls to the Florida Poison Control Center regarding the ingestion or inhalation of hemp products,” Gregory said. “Last year there were 1,686.”

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