By Eric Stevens
Although there have been Florida statues in place regarding the requirements for hemp and CBD products for months now, enforcement began in January. Inspectors have a wide array of new things to look for and stores were given an initial 30 days to comply before being reinspected and having these products pulled however this deadline will be extended slightly from what we have heard. That is why you need to make sure you stay informed. Non-retailers also began their inspections too, and we expect the cultivation rules to come out very soon.
Unless there is a policy or statue changes sometime in the next 2 months while the legislature meets, the following will continue to be required in Florida. One must clearly have the name of the product, a website for the company and also a scannable QR code that can take them to the certificate of analysis proving that the product has undergone the required testing to be sold. You must also clearly label the total number of milligrams of “hemp extract” in the container. It must also state an expiration date, serving size and even though it is not a dry product it must contain a statement that “this product does not contain more than .3% Tetrahydrocannabinol on a dry weight basis.”
Any of these can be reasons for a non-compliant product to be pulled, and they are also starting to test products for contamination. It is not the time to wait for the enforcement, the time is NOW! Many states around the country have been setting up their programs and to make things more complicated, they aren’t all going to be the same at this point and they may all need different labels. This can add a cost and time burden, but they want to make sure we have safe products, correctly labeled. There is also some disagreement on the labeling of hemp as a food versus a dietary supplement, and we expect more clarity on that soon.
Then there is a new issue as products previously using GRAS certified hemp products like seeds at your local Winn Dixie or Whole Foods did not need all of these same label rules but in Florida until a bill passes, that is currently being the rule required by FDACS. If the bill filed in the Florida House passes by March, some of this may change again slightly but for now the rules are the rules. There is also language to clarify the seed rules and more.
There have been rumblings in Tallahassee that legislators may try to hold out on doing anything that would help hemp farmers as it could be seen to benefit the sole democrat in office, but they would be helping Florida’s farmers not the Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. When pushed some say they say they are upset about her putting her face on a sticker on gas pumps. Many things are done that others don’t agree with, but you do not then never work with them on anything because you want them to not be elected again. Would they really trade Florida’s agricultural future and suffering farmers over a sticker? I haven’t seen anyone so bothered by a sticker since the person sitting next to me in elementary after a pop quiz when their test came back without one. You can’t just use that as a logical reason to not do anything for Florida agriculture or hemp future.
With comments closing on the initial USDA rules, we expect to see some changes there soon also. Separately companies need to be wary of federal restrictions as the FDA continues to issue warnings to businesses. These include not making medical claims on your website and a host of other guidance. Make sure to become a member of the Florida Hemp Council to make sure you stay up to date with all the latest compliance news and get our helpful FLHC compliance checklists, State Labeling differences, FLHC Member FAQ’s and FDA Summaries to help prepare before so you can cut down your potential legal costs, ramifications and bad news stories in the future. All of these things may change as the legislature meets these next two months and we have regular calls and emails to keep people informed. Find out more at www.theflhc.org.