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Mixed signals from Florida in the most recent CBD enforcement scare

Updated: Oct 6, 2021

CBD enforcement scare
Source - Wikimedia Commons

SARASOTA, FLORIDA – Those who sell and consume cannabidiol, or CBD, in parts of the Sunshine State are stuck puzzling over conflicting claims by officials in wake of announcements regarding the products this week.

News broke Tuesday when Sarasota police officials announced that they would begin to crack down on the sale of products containing the non-psychoactive hemp extract.

This echoes news from recent weeks, when authorities in Maine, Ohio and New York City announced they would illegalize and enforce sanctions against CBD products of different descriptions, mostly those where food and drink are infused with CBD. [1]

According to reporting from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida, police there announced they would move in on the CBD sellers after receiving complaints from residents that some of the products purchased from local gas stations had made them ill. [2]

While this reporting explains that CBD is in a moral gray area, the 2018 Farm Bill did reclassify hemp as an agricultural product. Still, there have been mixed signals from the Food and Drug Administration and some panic from states and municipalities, as mentioned above.

Proponents of CBD and retailers in the area were keen to defend their businesses in the reporting from the Herald-Tribune. “We are very transparent on what we sell and how we sell what we sell,” CBD shop co-owner Shelby Isaacson told the newspaper. “Our certificates from a third party’s lab are always here in the shop so you know what you’re taking. We are in full compliance with the federal government.” [2]

Police planned to serve two notices to CBD sellers to cease and desist their sale of the products before forcibly shuttering stores or removing inventories if necessary. [3]

Then, on Thursday, the complications deepened when comment came from the Florida State Attorney, Ed Brodsky, who claims he does not plan to press any charges against proprietors of CBD businesses. [4]

Brodsky said in a statement published in the Herald Tribune that he does not expect to see any charges of selling CBD pushed to his office, and that really this is a measure meant to educate the public.

Still, the statement that Brodsky doesn’t plan to pursue any charges because threats from police authorities are simply “educational” leaves much to be desired, to say the least, and perhaps betrays a serious misunderstanding of what prohibitions do.

Those working in the cannabis industry, including those who produce and sell CBD, don’t have so many illusions of “helpful” and “educational” prohibitions. The reality, of course, is that prohibitive legislation always falls at the feet of nonviolent purveyors of highly-demanded and exciting new products.

The huge increase in interest toward CBD products shows the incredible promise those extracts hold for helping peaceful, everyday people live their lives in comfort and as they wish.

Overreaches like those in Florida will prevent this, and cost untold thousands of dollars and the security of the livelihoods for those who sell these in-demand commodities. To ensure the rights of adults to consume the products they trust and rely on, it is important to speak out against such actions.






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