Oh, Florida. The sunshine state. Lovely nature, beautiful beaches, and ever-changing marijuana legislation.
Florida is actually one of the more lax states on CBD legislation - as of 2020, you can buy low-THC CBD oil and use it without a medical license. But is CBD oil legal, fully? Let’s take some time to talk about what CBD is, why it is sometimes illegal, and where Floridians can get it in the state of gators and oranges.
What is CBD?
CBD (also called cannabidiol) comes from the cannabis plant, and it is the second most prevalent cannabinoid in it. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), however, it is not the component in cannabis that makes you feel high and giggly. Instead, it is the component that gives you the medicinal and pain-relieving side of cannabis.
You can get CBD from both marijuana and hemp plant. Hemp plants tend to be legal in a lot of the United States since they only contain trace amounts of THC, which is the substance federal laws most care about. There is an array of health benefits that CBD can provide.
It can be anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, and have anti-seizure properties, and generally improve your wellness. It has been shown to aid in certain conditions such as epilepsy syndromes, neurological disorders, mood disorders, nausea, acne, and pain.
The side effects of this chemical are also close to non-existent, making it an incredible alternative to certain medicines that pose too much of a risk to a person’s health or addiction status.
Why Is CBD Sometimes Illegal?
The 1970 Federal Controlled Substances Act was the first to make hemp products illegal under United States law. This has been severely disputed since it was put into a Schedule I category, meaning the federal government believed this substance had a high potential for abuse, absolutely no accepted medical use, as well as a likelihood for addiction.
As we have discussed earlier, not only does hemp contain trace amounts of THC, which is the intoxicating substance, but we also know it is not an addictive substance, and it can have many important medical uses. It was not until 2018, when President Donald Trump signed the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, that industrial hemp cultivation was legalized on a federal level, making it essentially legal to extract CBD from the hemp plant.
Right now, under United States law, there is a distinction between cannabis that contains only trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3 percent by weight), which is called hemp, and cannabis that contains more than 0.3 percent of THC, which is called marijuana and is still classified under a Schedule I substance.
This 2018 bill also allowed the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) to come in and regulate the labeling and claims of CBD, as well as its use as a food additive. The FDA still holds a fairly strict stance on CBD even when derived from hemp, saying it must not be added to both food and beverages or taken as a dietary supplement.
It has also been quite strict when it comes to CBD companies making health claims or claims that could be seen as medical advice. The FDA seems to still be in the process of reviewing its position on CBD products, which means there is still a fair amount of confusion in today’s CBD market.
It has not helped that the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 also allows for each state to put in their own restrictions on CBD cultivation and commerce, some even going as far as to ban it outright.
Even if they have not fully banned it, states can still regulate whether or not CBD can be put into food, drinks, dietary supplements, and cosmetic products (for acne), and can do it before the FDA has a chance to finalize their assessment on these issues.
This is why understanding the CBD laws on a state-by-state basis is important and can prevent you from getting into unnecessary legal issues. In Florida specifically, there have been several changes over the recent years.
In 2014, SB 1030 was approved, which meant Florida lawmakers had now legalized CBD oil that contained low levels of THC for medical marijuana patients that qualified and were registered within the state program.
This was Florida’s first medical marijuana license and it allowed for people with cancer, muscle spasms, seizures, and terminal illnesses to get a doctor’s recommendation for a medical marijuana card, and with it purchase, possess and consume marijuana with 10 percent or more of CBD as well as less than 0.8 percent of THC
In 2016, the state’s medical marijuana program was expanded by Amendment 2, which voters voted for. This amendment still did not allow for the smoking of marijuana, and it definitely did not allow for its recreational use. However, in 2019, after the Florida Supreme Court struck down the ban on smokable marijuana, SB 182 was passed.
This was signed by governor Ron DeSantis and essentially promoted what the 2018 Farm Bill also legalized, hemp plants containing less than 0.3 percent of THC by weight. It also legalized hemp extracts and stated that hemp-derived cannabinoids are not controlled substances.
In current times, if you hold a medical marijuana card, you should have access to medical cannabis that contains both high levels of CBD and high levels of CBD.
If you or your business would like to grow and process hemp into hemp extracts, however, you would have to apply for a state license, and all of your products would have to be tested by a licensed independent laboratory (so they can make sure your products are under the 0.3 percent THC level and that they are not contaminated).
How Legal Is Marijuana And CBD At The Federal Level?
As we have already discussed, the 2018 Hemp Farming Act allowed for the possibility of individual state legalization of CBD and other hemp-derived products. This means any substance derived from hemp is no longer federally classified as a Schedule I drug.
The laws surrounding marijuana, however, are very different and much, much stricter. At the end of 2020, the House of Representatives passed new legislation called the MORE (Marijuana Reinvestment and Expungement) Act. This act, however, is very unlikely to pass in the Senate.
Although most Americans currently support full marijuana legalization, the government seems unwilling to keep up with the will of the people and marijuana remains a Schedule I drug federally. This does not mean, however, that there is no pressure on individual states to move toward legalizing it - and some seem to be agreeing that that is the best course of action.
How Legal Is Marijuana And CBD In Florida?
Alright, so we have gone over the specific laws that have been passed in Florida regulating both CBD and marijuana and how they have changed over the most recent years. While the CBD legislation is fairly easy to understand, since it is, for all intents and purposes, legal, the marijuana legislation can be a bit more difficult to understand. So, let us quickly run through it.
In order to legally consume marijuana in the state of Florida (smokable marijuana, since edible marijuana is still illegal), you must have a medical marijuana card. But who exactly is eligible for a medical marijuana card?
In order to qualify for a medical marijuana card, you must receive a medical diagnosis for one of the qualifying conditions (for example cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc.) from a qualifying physician. Here is the full list of medical conditions:
- Severe, debilitating, chronic pain
- Severe nausea of any cause
- Seizures, including but not limited to those characteristics of epilepsy
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms
- Sleep disorders including insomnia and sleep apnea
- Eating disorders resulting in weight loss
- Chemotherapy side effects
- Mood disorders including anxiety, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder
- Intestinal disorders (ulcers, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome)
- Restless leg syndrome
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Tourette syndrome
- Menstrual cramps
- Migraine headaches
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Attention deficit disorder (ADHD)
- Spinal injuries/disease
Once you have been diagnosed, you will be entered into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry by your physician. Once this has been done, you can apply (together with your caregiver) for a Registry Identification Card. Finally, then you will be able to fill out your medical marijuana card at a state-approved medical marijuana treatment center and you will be good to go.
What Does Having A Medical Marijuana License Prevent?
You might have some issues getting a CWFL (Concealed Weapons and Firearms License) if you have a medical marijuana license. Since marijuana is still an illegal substance on a federal level, then there is a conflict within the law about owning a gun while you are able to consume an illegal drug. The legality of this is expected to change at some point, but no one knows when and to what.
What Are The Florida CBD Possession Limits?
The state of Florida has not set any limits at all on how much CBD an individual person is able to carry on them at one time. If you have a medical marijuana card and are carrying cannabis products, however, then you are only allowed to carry (as well as purchase at once) up to four ounces of cannabis. You must also have purchased this product at a dispensary that is licensed by the state.
Where Can I Buy CBD In Florida?
Even though every business that is intending to sell CBD products must be registered and licensed by the state, there is still not a clear restriction on what kind of businesses are allowed to CBD and its related products.
This means that if you are not looking to go through the trouble of finding the designated spot in your area, you are also allowed to order CBD online. There are several online stores that will deliver straight to your home, and you can find most of them on Weedmaps.
If you would like to buy CBD in person, perhaps to talk to the sales clerk about what amount and what to take, then you can find CBD products at stores, retailers, and licensed dispensaries such as convenience shops, health food stores, CBD shops, and even cafes, restaurants, and coffee shops. You can also get it everywhere in Florida, not only in Miami and Orlando.
Now that you know where to buy it, however, it is time to understand what to get. There is a wide variety of CBD products, such as oils, gummies, candies, topicals, etc. This means that you might not always be aware of the amount you are buying and the ingestion method that works the best for you. Similarly, you might also not know what else is in the products apart from CBD.
When shopping for CBD products, look for important product details including the form of CBD, how much CBD the product contains, what other chemicals or ingredients are in the product and whether it has been tested for potency and contaminants. This is why sometimes, going to a shop in person, especially if you are a newbie, can be especially helpful.
How Do I Read CBD Labels And Packaging?
All and any of your CBD products, under Florida law, must have the following (please refer to a store employee if any of these are not found in your package):
- A scannable barcode or QR code linked to a certificate stating that the product has cleared lab testing
- The product's batch number
- Website on which full batch information is available
- Expiration date
- Amount of hemp oil extract in the product, in milligrams
- A statement that the product contains less than 0.3 percent THC content
After this, everything else is optional. However, most CBD products (especially the best CBD products) will also include this information:
- Amount of active CBD per serving
- Supplement Fact panel, including other ingredients
- Net weight
- Manufacturer or distributor name
- Suggested use
- Full spectrum, broad spectrum, or isolate
- Batch or date code
Now, the big thing to watch out for here is what kind of CBD product you have - whether it is full spectrum, broad spectrum, or isolate. If your product says full spectrum, then that means that the CBD in this product has been extracted from a hemp plant together with every other cannabinoid and terpene.
It also means it will include trace amounts of THC from the plant it was extracted from. Full spectrum is often thought of as the better option since the entourage effect (the result of having cannabinoids and terpenes working together) is quite effective.
A CBD product labeled as broad spectrum essentially means that it also contains cannabinoids and terpenes. The big difference, however, is that broad spectrum CBD products have undergone further processes in order to remove any trace of THC.
Finally, CBD isolate is exactly what it sounds - it is only CBD, having undergone extensive processes to remove anything else. This means that the results from taking CBD isolate will be quite different from what you get with broad spectrum products or full spectrum products.
Essentially, we know that CBD is practically legalized in the sunshine state, and buying CBD oil products both online and in person is okay. Although it can be difficult to understand where to buy it and what to get for your specific needs, actually possessing hemp CBD and CBD products is no longer illegal.
Florida residents can also get marijuana legally with a medical marijuana card. As long as you are over 18, then you should be able to have your cannabis needs met, and if not, you should talk to your doctor.