Florida bill limiting THC in Hemp products would 'destroy' industry
Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would dramatically reduce the amount of THC allowed in retail hemp products.
It’s a move some business owners say would ruin their livelihoods.
"You’re destroying 100,000 Floridian families for no reason," said Matthew Schwarmann, the president of Outpost Brands, a hemp manufacturing company in Daytona Beach.
On Tuesday, Schwarmann will be in Tallahassee to fight HB 1475 -- a bill that would limit the amount of THC in hemp products to not exceed 5 milligrams per serving or 50 milligrams per package. It would also prohibit those products for anyone under the age of 21.
“Twenty-one and up, no child-attractive packaging...these things in the bill makes sense. The problem is, the entire second half of the bill does nothing but destroy the entire hemp industry and hand it right over to medical marijuana companies," Schwarmann said.
According to a report done by hemp business researcher Whitney Economics, the hemp industry employs more than 100,000 workers in Florida and generates $3.5 billion in wages. In a survey, 67% of respondents said a restriction on cannabinoid retail sales would result in them going out of business or exiting the state.
"There’s a specific part where you’re restricted to just a couple milligrams per serving and less than 50mg per package. That would eliminate every product you see on the wall here," Schwarmann said.
"You’re looking at 10,200 permitted businesses in the hemp industry here in Florida. Roughly 53% will be out of business," said Angela Warren, the manager of Asha Vapes in Daytona.
The bill was sponsored by District 71 Representative William Robinson.
Schwarmann says supporters of the bill believe it would help protect children from hemp products. He says permitted businesses are already following these rules, and this bill would just put them out of business.
"This has never killed anyone. We can regulate this to 21 plus to protect the kids but don't destroy the entire industry. There's nothing to be gained from that," he said.
We reached out to representative Robinson but did not hear back. If this bill passes, it will go into effect on July 1.