• Action News Jax Investigates hemp vs. marijuana: Florida's new hemp law is causing confusion

    By: Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Action News Jax reporter Ben Becker is investigating how law enforcement and state officials are dazed and confused as they try to figure out Florida’s new hemp law.

    Senate bill 1020 became law July 1, and it says hemp with 0.3 percent THC, the compound that gets you high, is legal.

    Marijuana contains between 5% and 20% THC.


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    But, there isn’t a reliable way for law enforcement officers on the road or Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents in the lab to  test the percentage of THC  in hemp or marijuana that  look and smell the same and come from the same plant.

    “I have a co-worker who uses hemp cigarettes that smells like weed,” said Cheryl Hill.

    Action News Jax law and Safety Expert Dale Carson said the confusion is a big problem for law enforcement agencies.

    “The result is there are going to be arrests and the State Attorney’s Office is going to have to sort it out”

    The Florida Sheriffs Association sent out this legal alert: 

     Becker contacted the three largest law enforcement agencies in Northeast Florida.

    The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said, “Marijuana arrests are still being made.”

    The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said it is “reviewing the issue and using more caution when making arrests.”

    The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said it will "continue to enforce the law and use good discretion.”

    The bill was sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, and it passed in the House in a 112-1 vote and in the Senate in a 39-0 vote.

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    Bradley sent Becker this statement: 

    “The rule making process is under way at the federal and state level.

    Production of hemp will not begin until the rule making process is complete.

    If necessary, the issue can be addressed either by rule or during the next legislative session, where committee weeks are beginning in September.

    This is an emerging industry- hiccups are to be expected and any kinks will be worked out as industry regulations evolve.  Florida is going to be a world leader in hemp production.”

    Becker requested an interview with State Attorney Melissa Nelson and is waiting to hear back. 

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