FLORIDA: Sarasota Police Crack Down on CBD
The federal Farm Bill passed earlier this year, classifying hemp as an agricultural product, separating hemp/CBD from marijuana. As long as the plant has less than .3% THC, it is legal federally but federal law does not pre-empt state law, and Florida currently has a hemp law. Florida does not allow any amount of THC to be sold unless it is from a medical marijuana dispensary.
Under Florida law, the Sarasota Police Department is claiming that cannabidiol (CBD) is illegal and are starting to make sure it is enforced. The Chief of Police released a letter demanding stores stop selling all forms of CBD on Tuesday (2/12/2019) and officers will deliver cease and desist notices to stores this week. If they do not remove the products, police may do it for them after a second warning.
Police said the crackdown was kicked off by at least seven complaints from citizens that recently reported feeling ill after using these CBD products.
CBD alone has been proven to have no side effects but if it contains THC or some other toxin, there is a possibility of someone getting a bad medical reaction. The Police are doing what they believe is in the best interest of the citizens.
Sarasota has at least two dozen stores that sell CBD products, a few of them exclusively. Officers went undercover and were told by at least two shops that their oils contained zero THC. After testing, there was THC present in the products. Even though the Farm Bill states .3% of THC is legal, if consumed you could still test positive for THC if drug tested.
Most stores started off selling legit pure CBD products but added more that contain THC later down the line. Most of the time when businesses are already set, nobody goes in to inspect them for a poor product. More products equal more sales so distributors come along and claim the product is legal and great so businesses buy into it.
There's a lot of debate on whether cannabidiol is legal in Florida and it really depends on whom you ask. Sarasota Police, Twelfth Circuit State Attorney, Ed Brodsky, and the new Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried, say that the substance is unlawful. She said in a press conference last week, "[CBD is] not legal hear right now, and that's exactly what I'm hoping the legislation is going to allow. We're working with some of the lawmakers so they can change the definition so that we can, in fact, do a CBD program here in [Florida] to make it very clear. So that the consumers are—you know a lot of that that's on the marketplace is fraud."
Outside of medical marijuana, current Florida state laws prohibit sales of any cannabis derivatives as well as one that allows a strict hemp experimental trial.
A member of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable board of directors, Deborah Gestner, argues that selling CBD oil is legal in Florida because it is not a derivative of marijuana. The passage of the Farm Bill in Congress federally established that hemp is an agricultural commodity and permanently removed it from regulation as a controlled substance.
Although they look similar, cannabidiol has been separated because it is not the same plant. They are different species. When compared side by side, you can clearly identify each plant. The marijuana plant is short and bushy with broad leaves and dense buds. Hemp grows skinnier and taller with branches and skinny leaves mainly growing at the top of the plant.
Many local business owners interpret the law the same as Gestner. They know it will negatively affect business but are more frustrated that people won't have the easy access what is helping so many people with anxiety, pain relief, sleep issues, and other health conditions and still have no negative side effects. They will continue to try and keep doors open as long as they can in hopes that the laws will soon change.
In the meantime, city officials recommend that if you need or want to purchase CBD oil, go to a physician, get one of the cards, and buy it from a medical marijuana dispensary. This way you know for sure what is in the product.
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