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The Potential Impact of Florida's Senate Bill 1698

Updated: 2 days ago

A judges gavel sitting on a pile of cannabis leaves

The legal landscape surrounding hemp and cannabinoid products in Florida is quickly changing. Senate Bill 1698 was recently passed in the Florida Senate and is now awaiting signature from Governor Ron DeSantis to become official.

Senate Bill 1698 aims to limit the amount of Delta-9 THC allowed in hemp-derived products, among other provisions that may have a serious impact on the Florida hemp and cannabis industry. This bill also targets other cannabinoids, which were largely unregulated before SB 1698, particularly other forms of THC.

Although the future is uncertain, retailers in the Sunshine State are becoming quite concerned about the potential impact that Senate Bill 1698 will have on the industry.

Article Highlights

  • Senate Bill 1698 was passed in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. If all goes to plan, it will come into effect in October 2024 with an allotment of $2 million to purchase testing equipment to ensure compliance.

  • SB 1698 aims to limit THC contents in hemp and marijuana products while outright banning several other cannabinoids, both natural and synthetic.

  • SB 1698 modifies what qualifies as attractive to children, including packaging that displays toys or other elements that target children. Includes other packaging requirements as well. Packaging should include the toll-free number for the National Poison helpline.

Table of Contents

What is Senate Bill 1698?

Senate Bill 1698 was first introduced in January of 2024, and it is designed to regulate the production and sale of hemp-derived products in Florida. The main component of Senate Bill 1698 involves limiting the amount of Delta-9 THC found in hemp products.

It also targets several variations of THC other than Delta-9, as well as synthetic cannabinoids. The potential impact of Senate Bill 1698 on the Florida hemp industry is massive, as this would severely limit the types of products available for purchase.  

What We Know So Far About Senate Bill 1698

What we know so far about Senate Bill 1698 is that it was passed by the House, with the vote being largely in favor of the bill, 64-48.

It was also passed unanimously by the Florida Senate, with only a signature pending from Governor Ron DeSantis to make it legally binding.

The signs are pointing towards SB 1698 being signed into law, and if so, it will come into effect on October 1, 2024. There are several main components of Senate Bill 1698 that would greatly alter the hemp landscape in Florida, including the following:

  • Hemp products, including all derivatives, acids, cannabinoids, extracts, isomers, salts, and salts of isomers, whether still growing or not, may not contain more than 0.3% total Delta-9 THC on a wet-weight basis.

  • These hemp products may not contain more than 5 milligrams of Delta-9 THC per serving or more than 50 milligrams of Delta-9 THC per package on a wet-weight basis.

  • Senate Bill 1698 also takes aim at many cannabinoids that were previously unregulated or only regulated to a small degree. The bill aims to completely ban several synthetic cannabinoids and variations of THC, including Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, hexahydrocannabinol, tetrahydrocannabinol acetate, tetrahydrocannabiphorol, and tetrahydrocannabivarin.

  • The Bill also states that a food establishment or business may not possess any hemp extract products that may be attractive to children.

  • The Bill provides some other packaging guidelines that will be necessary to sell retail batches after the bill's approval. Packages may not bear any resemblance to a branded food product, particularly candy or snacks, so that the packaging cannot be mistaken with the branded food product in question. 

  • Packaging must also include a scannable barcode that leads to the website where information can be found in regard to mandated third-testing. Packaging must also include the batch number, the site address where batch information can be found, the expiration date, the number of milligrams per serving, and the toll-free number to the national Poison Help Line. 

  • SB 1698 gives the FDACS authorization to issue stop-sale orders to any vendor with products that may look attractive to children, especially those bearing resemblances to candy or snacks, and those with food color additives. 

  • SB 1698 also has some provisions surrounding the manufacture of such products. Hemp extracts can only be sold in Florida if they have a legitimate certificate of analysis from an independent third party, the extract is the product of a batch tested by the third party, and the Delta-9 THC content is below 0.3% (based on testing of a random sample).  

A cannabis inspectors hands making notes on a chart in from of cannabis plants

A Brief Overview of the History of Cannabis in Florida

The reality is that Florida has never been overly accepting of cannabis, although in previous years, it looked like there might be some steps taken toward legalization. Senate Bill 1698 further regulates the cannabis industry in Florida with laws that may seem subjectively regressive. 

The first step that Florida took was in 2014, when the Compassionate Use Act was passed, which allowed qualifying patients to access medical hemp products, particularly those with high CBD levels and low THC levels.

Medical marijuana was then made legal through a constitutional amendment in 2016. Amendment 2 was passed with 71% of votes in favor, thus officially allowing qualifying patients to access medical marijuana in Florida.

The next step was taken in 2018, when Florida legislators passed Senate Bill 1020 (State Hemp Program), which effectively provided Florida farmers with licenses and regulations to cultivate their own hemp plants, so long as they met certain conditions, such as ensuring that crops did not have elevated THC levels.

There was another Senate Bill, 1676, which came into effect in July of 2023, with hemp-derived edibles being one of the primary focuses. It stated that although hemp-derived edibles were allowed in Florida, the bill also closed loopholes that allowed intoxicating foods and beverages to be freely sold in Florida.

At this point in time, medical marijuana is legal in Florida for those who qualify, while recreational marijuana is not legal. Interesting to note is that Amendment 3 is now on the ballot, an amendment that would officially legalize recreational marijuana for all Floridians over the age of 21.

This amendment will be decided in November 2024, when Florida voters voice their opinions. However, it appears that Florida lawmakers do not favor this move. This can be seen by the starkly opposing Senate Bill 1698, which would greatly limit the production and sale of hemp and cannabis products in Florida.

The Legislative Process for Senate Bill 1698

The legislative process for Senate Bill 1698 is quite simple. First, the Bill went to the US House of Representatives, where it passed with a vote of 64 to 48. Once a bill passes the House of Representatives, it must be voted on by the Florida Senate.

In this case, Bill 1698 passed unanimously, with 39 votes in favor, and none against. Once a bill is passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, it must go to the Governor of the state to be officially signed into law, which at this time is Governor Ron DeSantis.

What is the Path Forward for Passing Senate Bill 1698?

Bill 1698 has successfully passed through both the House of Representatives and the Senate. It now awaits Governor Ron DeSantis's review. If the governor does not oppose the bill with a veto, it will come into effect on October 1, 2024.

The Potential Impact of Senate Bill 1698 on the Cannabis Industry in Florida

The potential impact of SB 1698 on the cannabis industry in Florida remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: revenue will suffer.

To put it into perspective, the bill puts strict limits on THC levels in hemp products, it stops businesses from selling any products with more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC, and it outright bans a plethora of other cannabinoids. This includes Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC, among other cannabinoids, both natural and synthetic. This would limit the amount of products available on the state's shelves.

For some background, in 2022, Florida hemp sales totaled more than $10 billion. Although the exact figures are still out, one can rightfully assume that hemp-based cannabinoid products such as Delta-8 THC and Delta-10 THC made up a good part of those sales.

With Senate Bill 1698 officially putting an end to the sale of these cannabinoids (if it comes into effect), it serves to reason that overall hemp sales will drop and that businesses will likely feel the squeeze. Moreover, the extra compliance costs for manufacturers may also hinder the growth of individual businesses.

However, exactly what will happen remains to be seen, particularly with Amendment 3 on the horizon, which could potentially legalize adult-use recreational marijuana.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Oversight in Cannabis

Although the benefits and drawbacks of oversight in cannabis may be slightly subjective, there are some notable points to make. For instance, as far as cannabis oversight is concerned, one of the most positive aspects is that products are thoroughly tested for safety and quality.

This means that legal hemp products that consumers purchase should be free of all dangerous contaminants. Rigorous oversight also allows for the clear control and labeling of products regarding their cannabinoid contents.

A pole-bearer of quality in the cannabis industry is Arvida Labs, with its core tenets being quality control, consumer safety, and overall transparency. Arvida Labs is consistently touted as an industry leader for product control, quality, and safety.  

There are, of course, some drawbacks to consider as well, with the costs of the legal framework, licensing, and compliance costs all coming to light. The simple reality is that oversight requires manpower and it costs money, and yes, that burden will most certainly fall on the taxpayer in the form of tax hikes.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is the discrepancy between the US federal government and individual state governments, as they generally have conflicting laws surrounding hemp and cannabis. This can create fragments and conflicts within the industry, which ultimately stalls progress.

How You Can Get Involved?

If you want to get involved in hemp and cannabis advocacy to further the cause, there are several methods at your disposal. Joining legitimate advocacy groups is the best option to make your voice heard.

  • Become a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association, an advocacy group designed to protect legal business. Full of news, educational resources, events, and more, the NCIA is a leading advocacy group for cannabis.

  • You can join the Marijuana Justice Coalition, a broad group of national advocacy organizations designed to produce federal marijuana reform through an economic and racial justice lens.

There are plenty of actions that you can take as an individual to advocate for positive cannabis reform in your state. It is possible to have meetings with state legislators to discuss such issues. You can attend peaceful rallies supporting cannabis reform or even attempt to have your thoughts expressed on your local news.

For further context, see if cannabinoids like Delta-10 are legal in Florida.

About Arvida Labs

Arvida Labs has long been a strong proponent of cannabis advocacy, making the most of every opportunity to further the cause. Arvida leads the charge for advocating for safe and high-quality cannabinoid products. 

In fact, the managing partner at Arvida Labs, Arby Barroso, received the 2018 Cannabis Business Award for Advocate of the Year. This showcases the company’s dedication to eliminating the negative stereotypes surrounding cannabis and promoting all of its potential benefits for both medical and recreational purposes. 

All cannabinoid products are rigorously tested throughout all production stages to ensure the utmost of quality and legal compliance. The patent-pending processes used by Arvida allow for novel cannabinoids to be created at scale with customized chemical structures.

This allows cannabinoids manufactured by Arvida to meet all necessary manufacturing and safety standards while making the end products enjoyable for consumers. Arvida labs is a leading advocate of safe, rigorously tested, and legally compliant cannabinoid products that lawmakers and consumers alike can appreciate. 

Sources Used for This Article:

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. It reflects the legal status and regulations at the time of publishing and is not intended to substitute for professional legal counsel. Readers are encouraged to consult a qualified attorney for advice on specific legal issues. Arvida Labs assumes no liability for actions taken based on the contents of this article.

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