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June 4, 2024
4 min to read

DeSantis Vetoes Florida Delta 8 Ban

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Jim McDonald

Update June 7

On June 7, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed SB 1698, the bill that would have banned the sale of delta 8 THC and other hemp-derived cannabinoids.

“While Senate Bill 1698’s goals are commendable,” DeSantis wrote in a letter to the Florida secretary of state, “the bill would, in fact, impose debilitating regulatory burdens on small businesses and almost certainly fail to achieve its purposes. Senate Bill 1698 would introduce dramatic disruption and harm to many small retail and  manufacturing businesses in Florida—businesses that have emerged due to recent legislation paving the way for the commercial use of hemp”

The governor encouraged the state legislature to revisit the issue next session, and suggested imposing product standards aimed at packaging and “accurate labeling, including cannabinoid content, sourcing information, health claims, and. dosing instructions.”

DeSantis’ veto message did not mention the November ballot initiative that would, if passed by 60 percent of voters, legalize recreational marijuana sales in the state. DeSantis opposes legalization.

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June 4, 2024

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is reportedly planning to veto a bill that would ban the sale of delta 8 THC and other federally legal hemp-derived cannabinoids. The bill, SB 1698, passed both houses of the Florida state legislature on March 6, but has still not been formally sent to the governor.

DeSantis believes a veto will persuade the hemp industry to help defeat a November ballot initiative (Amendment 3) that would amend the Florida constitution to allow recreational marijuana sales, according to CBS News Miami

DeSantis opposes legalizing marijuana. He apparently believes people who use delta 8 and other hemp-derived products will be less motivated to vote for Amendment 3 if they have continued access to delta 8.

"The veto is for voters and money—keep people from feeling the need to vote for marijuana and get the hemp industry to contribute the money to help fight the amendment," an unnamed source close to the governor told CBS News.

Hemp vs. marijuana: one plant, two industries

In Florida—and many states—the regulated marijuana industry and the hemp industry are political and economic rivals. The Florida delta 8 ban is supported by medical marijuana businesses and wealthy outside interests planning to enter the lucrative recreational market if Amendment 3 is approved in the November election. They see the intoxicating hemp products sold over the counter in many retail outlets as trespassers on their rightful commercial interests.

A ban on popular hemp-based products would affect numerous businesses in the country’s third-most populous state, including hemp farmers, manufacturers and distributors, and retail outlets like vape shops and convenience stores. It would also affect a growing number of residents who use hemp derivatives to treat anxiety and other medical conditions.

If SB 1698 becomes law, it would ban the sale of delta 8—the most popular intoxicating hemp product—and other hemp-derived cannabinoids like HHCdelta 10 THCTHC-OTHCP, and THCV, as well as all synthetic cannabinoids. The bill also defines allowable delta 9 THC levels in hemp-based products, sets the legal age to buy hemp-based products to 21, and prohibits products that could be confused with food items and packaging “attractive to children.”

About two dozen U.S. states have banned or restricted the sale of delta 8 THC or hemp-derived cannabinoids in general, often with the support of the regulated marijuana industry. Some states have limited the sale of hemp-based intoxicants to state-regulated marijuana dispensaries.

Hemp and marijuana are the same plant (Cannabis sativa). Cannabis plants containing less than 0.3 percent delta 9 THC by weight are considered hemp by the federal government, and regulated as an agricultural product under the 2018 Farm Bill. Plants containing over 0.3 percent delta 9 are federally illegal marijuana.

Polls say Florida legalization initiative passage uncertain

Approval of the November ballot initiative, known as the Marijuana Legalization Initiative or Amendment 3, requires yes votes from 60 percent of voters. It would make adults 21 and over able to legally possess up to three ounces of marijuana with up to five grams in the form of concentrates. 

The amendment would allow current medical marijuana facilities to sell recreational products, and give the state legislature power to license additional cultivation and retail businesses.

Polls on the initiative show a variety of possible outcomes, according to Marijuana Moment

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Jim McDonald

Vaping since: 12 years

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Favorite flavors: RY4-style tobaccos, fruits

Expertise in: Political and legal challenges, tobacco control haters, moral panics

Jim McDonald

Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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