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‘Basically creating a “Bud-Light”:’ Compromise on FL hemp bill would allow half-potency THC edibles

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Legal marijuana highs could be coming to a store near you sooner than you might have expected.

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Florida lawmakers seem to be offering cannabis-loving Floridians a legal high to hold them over ahead of the November election, where recreational marijuana will likely appear on the ballot.

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A surprise amendment tagged onto a bill initially aimed at cracking down on psychoactive hemp products would allow for hemp edibles to contain 5 milligrams of Delta-9 THC per serving.

Currently the limit for medical marijuana edibles is 10 milligrams per serving.

“They are basically creating a ‘bud-light’,” said Jodi James with the Florida Cannabis Action Network.

James argued, while the idea of the legislature moving to legalize a watered-down version of weed may sound appealing, the overall crackdown on hemp products containing other versions of THC in the bill is going to damage the hemp industry as a whole.

RELATED: Florida Poison Control Center warns parents of Delta-8 gummies amid rise in marijuana calls

“They embraced the laws that we have. They’re here to chase their American dream and in one sweep the Florida Senate attempted to pick winners and losers,” said James.

Lawmakers have been attempting to reign in the hemp industry for years now.

After hemp was legalized in 2019, products containing synthetic high-inducing chemicals spread like wildfire.

Ellen Snelling with the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance noted due to loopholes in current law, there are no limits on how much THC hemp products can contain.

“I see products now with 1,000 milligrams per gummy,” said Snelling.

The result has been a more than 500 percent increase in annual calls to poison control due to exposure to the products.

Nearly half of those calls are due to children being exposed.

House Sponsor Tommy Gregory (R-Lakewood Ranch) argued he would rather have prohibited all forms of THC from hemp, but a compromise had to be struck to get the prohibition on the synthetic versions across the finish line.

“The only question I have remaining after today is when are we going to have the resolve to do the right thing and fully prohibit the sale of recreational drugs like these in the State of Florida?” said Gregory.

If the Governor signs the bill, hemp stores would have to stop selling Delta-8 and hemp products with synthetic cannabinoids by October 1st.

We’ll have an answer from the Florida Supreme Court by April 1st on whether Florida voters will have the opportunity to fully legalize recreational marijuana this November.

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