Florida consumers soon could see something similar to the famous “Fresh from Florida” logo on CBD hemp products made in the state, where hemp becomes legal July 1.
Gov. Ron De Santis signed legislation late Tuesday that legalizes state-licensed hemp farming and sales in Florida. South Florida CBD makers say the law will both weed out bad apples and help them expand.
Florida’s Agriculture Department is busy creating regulations for the new industry. State-regulated hemp products eventually will carry a new Florida hemp logo, according to department spokesman Max Flugrath.
“Florida has the potential to become the gold standard on hemp — our deep agricultural heritage, climate and resources, and farming infrastructure will make Florida a national leader in this emerging new economy,” said Nikki Fried, Florida’s agricultural commissioner, in a news release following the signing.
Fried said her department has been setting the framework for Florida’s hemp program by issuing draft rules and holding public workshops, including one last week in Broward County. Soon there will be regulations and permits for crop cultivation, CBD product manufacturing, and hemp-extract infused drinks and food sales, according to the draft rules issued by the Agriculture Department.
Hemp products will not only have to be safe for human consumption, but also for pets.
Cannabidiol, known as CBD, is produced from the “no-high” strain of the hemp plant, containing a trace of THC — less than 0.3 percent of THC — which became federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. Since then, some states including Florida have been working to make hemp legal to ensure better oversight of products sold.
That could mean changes for some CBD makers operating or selling in the state. Overall, CBD products — and potentially safer ones with more disclosure on ingredients — could be available at retail chains in South Florida. Currently, most CBD products are carried by smaller pharmacies and retailers, as well as some doctors’ offices.
The Agriculture Department has noted that some products being sold in Florida have been shown to contain harmful additives, and little to no hemp. If CBD producers fail to comply with the state’s safety standards for consumption under the new law, the department could now issue cease-and-desist letters to those CBD makers.
Green Roads’ president Laura Baldwin Fuentes said the new law could actually decrease competition in the state, because some sellers of CDB products found in local retail stores will now have to “follow the rules.”
Fort Lauderdale-based Veritas Farms views the new law as another step in expanding its business to national chains.
“The hemp [law] is going to clean up any lingering gray areas,” said Derek Thomas, vice president of business development for Veritas, which sells hemp products made in Colorado. “We’re well positioned with the success we have to continue to expand our retail partnerships.”
Veritas recently announced a partnership with CVS Pharmacies to carry its hemp oil, although not in Florida. Thomas said larger retail chains, which are often publicly held, have more risks than smaller, independent retailers. But Veritas has seen that change in attitude in states such as Illinois, once laws and regulations are passed.
Large retailers “don’t need to remove into that space right away because they have traffic. But they do it when they feel completely comfortable,” he said.
Veritas’ products currently are sold online or in smaller retailers and pharmacies, including Delray Beach-based pharmacy Delray Shores, which has a soda fountain that makes CBD shakes with Veritas’ hemp extract.
Laura Baldwin Fuentes, president of Green Roads, the largest home-grown CBD product maker in South Florida, said the company set out from the beginning to give consumers information about the production and ingredients of its CBD products. Green Roads, which opened its doors in 2013, sells its oils, chewable gummies, and other CBD products through a network of small pharmacies, retailers and physician’s offices.
“We’re doing everything already that’s on the bill,” Fuentes said. Green Roads’ customers can scan the QR code on a box to find out about the third-party lab testing aimed at ensuring what’s in the label is in the bottle.