The legality of CBD oil in the State of Florida, like a lot of other states in the United States, is confusing at best. Cannabidiol, known better as CBD, is a cannabinoid found in both marijuana and hemp. The legal status of CBD oil in Florida is confusing due to a variety of factors, including confusing laws, the amount of a cannabinoid known as THC present, the source it is derived from, and conflicting guidance given by government agencies in Florida. The outlook is bright though and in short, it appears that CBD oil may be legal in Florida

Marijuana is illegal under federal law as it is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. In Florida, marijuana is illegal except for medical use. In 2014, Florida passed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act. This Act legalized “low-THC cannabis” which was defined as a plant of the genus Cannabis which contained less than 0.8% THC and more than 10% CBD. This law did not distinguish between hemp and marijuana. This form of cannabis was only available to persons identified as “qualified patients,” which were defined as residents who were added to the compassionate use registry by a licensed physician for suffering from certain debilitating medical conditions.

Hemp vs. Marijuana Derived CBD

In 2016, amendments to the Florida State Constitution sought to expand the legality of medicinal cannabis use by enshrining medical cannabis into their Constitution; however, no regulation came along with it to provide any guidance. The people of Florida overwhelmingly voted in favor of Amendment 2 which expanded the previous medical cannabis laws. In 2017, the State Legislature enacted laws to officially codify Amendment 2 into law. There are presently multiple petitions in Florida seeking the legalization of recreational marijuana use. The overwhelming show of support for Amendment 2, which yielded more than 71% in favor of its passage, is a sign that the legalization of recreational marijuana is soon to come. In the event that recreational marijuana is legalized in Florida, CBD oil derived from it would then be legal to all residents in the state.

The legal status of hemp is different than that of marijuana. In 2018, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized industrial hemp. In order to be legal under this law, hemp was required to contain less than 0.3% THC. This distinguished hemp from marijuana and removed hemp from federal classification as a Schedule I controlled substance. States are not required to enact the same laws as the federal government and in Florida, the legislature initially chose to remain quiet on the subject of hemp specifically. It appears from the law passed in 2014, federally legal hemp would be legal under state law, but only for medicinal use.

The Department of Agriculture in Florida has been an advocate for legislation that would legalize hemp in the same manner as under federal law. If such a law were to pass, hemp and products derived from hemp would be legal for anyone to purchase.

The Perceived Problem with CBD

The problem that arises in regard to the legalization of most CBD products boils down to concerns over THC. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC, is the main active ingredient in marijuana. This chemical is also found in hemp, but not in levels as high. THC is one of a multitude of cannabinoids found in plants of the Cannabis genus. THC is what produces the psychoactive effect of feeling high. It is believed that CBD actually has the ability to negate the psychoactive effects of THC.
The effect of THC on the brain is due to the presence of CB1 receptors. These receptors are primarily found in the areas of the brain responsible for memory and motor function. THC binds with these receptors.

In contrast, CBD binds more with CB2 receptors. These receptors are primarily located in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and immune system. As such, CBD does not produce the same psychoactive effect and research suggest that CBD may actually negate the effects of THC.

Advantages to Using CBD Oil

Research on the medicinal properties of cannabinoids has long recognized their potential benefits. One of the areas where CBD products have shown amazing results is in the field of pain management. CBD has shown effectiveness in reducing the frequency of seizures in children and adults. Six weeks of using CBD has been shown to have effectiveness in reducing involuntary muscle contractions caused by dystonia by 20 to 50%. Patients with multiple sclerosis have been received the benefit of CBD in reducing muscle-tightness, pain, and urination frequency. CBD has also shown effective in providing more sleep time to persons who suffer from insomnia. Because of the effect that CBD has on CB2 receptors, CBD has become a popular form of treatment for Crohn’s disease. CBD has also proven effective in reducing anxiety and assisting in the withdrawal from opioids.

The current law in Florida has recognized the effectiveness of cannabinoids in the treatment of various diseases. Once in full implementation, persons with cancer, epilepsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), Crohn’s disease, and other debilitating conditions will have access to cannabis. While refusing to differentiate between hemp and cannabis, the law has legalized CBD oil for the use of the treatment of legislatively identified medical conditions.

Economic Benefits of Hemp and CBD Oil

The legalization of hemp and CBD oil could be big business for Florida. Florida is considered to have the ability to become one of the largest producers of CBD oil in the United States.

Current research being undertaken by Green Point Research in conjunction with Florida State University as to the capabilities of CBD oil has led to hemp being grown on farms all over the State of Florida. Estimates have it that moderately sized hemp businesses can see revenues in excess of $50,000 a month. Growing hemp on an industrial scale is best done outdoors. Florida is ideal because of its relatively warm climate. While marijuana plants need to be spaced out when grown, hemp seeds can be planted up to 400 per square meter. This has the potential to result in 50-60 pound of viable hemp per acre which can yield huge profit margins.

The high cost of hemp leads to the high costs of CBD oil. A gram of CBD oil can generally be expected to cost more than $130. CBD that is extremely cheap may be the result of low-grade products.

Because the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp federally, CBD oil from hemp with a THC level lower than 0.3% can be purchased online. Once in Florida however, the question as to whether that product will be in violation of state law has no answer in sight. Unfortunately, this has led to headlines being made when there was an arrest of a grandmother at Disney’s Magic Kingdom for possession of CBD oil. The charges were later dropped after a lawsuit was threatened against the arresting agency. Another major headline was when $500,000 worth of CBD product seized from one retailer in Tallahassee, Florida.

To complicate even this though, in March of 2019 reports were surfacing that Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried was trying to shut down the sale of products containing CBD in Florida, While CBD oil derived from marijuana is presently only allowed for persons with debilitating medical condition, CBD oil from hemp does not appear to be subject to such requirements but still the commissioner was persistent that the sale of CBD products is not legal in Florida. Some reports stated that Fried’s office is intending on sending cease and desist letters to businesses that sell CBD oil and other related products. Even with this, dozens of businesses all across the state still have over-the-counter CBD infused products.

Up until 2019, Florida made no distinction between marijuana and hemp. In May of 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1020 which made legal the cultivation of hemp. This law legalized the production and sale of CBD oil produced from hemp according to some reports. It appears from this legalization that CBD oil derived from hemp may in fact be legal to all residents in Florida in 2020.

So is CBD oil legal in the State of Florida? The answer is now yes. It is clear that CBD products derived from marijuana are illegal to anyone who does not fall under the medical usage exemption. For hemp derived CBD oil, the legislation passed in 2019 did in fact legalize it. The end to one of the most complex statuses of CBD oil has legalized hemp derived CBD oil and made Florida the second largest retailer of the products. Only California does more sales of CBD related products than Florida.

Where to Buy CBD Oil in Florida

In order for people to have access to medicinal cannabis, they must have been visiting a licensed doctor for at least three months. It is expected that the medicinal cannabis industry in Florida will bring in $1.6 billion in 2020. Persons who fall in this category may purchase products from licensed State dispensaries. Individuals who do not fall into the medical usage category may still obtain hemp based CBD oil at pharmacies and supermarkets.