Are shop owners in Florida worried about a bipartisan bill that proposes treating hemp extracts more like alcohol, limiting the sale of oils, tinctures and gummies containing cannabinoids like delta-8 THC and CBD to people age 21 and older?
While some in the hemp retail industry are resistant to the idea, others welcome it, reports the Miami New Times. In the meantime, as delta-8 enthusiasts wait to see how regulations shake out, some are buying more just in case. At least one shop owner has seen an increase in sales, according to the New Times.
Refresher: What’s Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 has a molecular structure akin to the most abundant form of naturally-occurring THC, delta-9, with similar psychotropic effects. Unlike delta-9, delta-8 is typically sourced from hemp and isn't explicitly prohibited at the federal level.
How is Delta-8 is Regulated in Florida?
In Florida, delta-8 is currently legal for general retail sale as a hemp product under the federal 2018 Farm Bill and corresponding state laws.
The bill introduced in November proposes “prohibiting the sale of hemp extract and hemp extract products intended for ingestion to persons under 21 years of age.” The legal buying age is already 21 for hemp products headed for the lungs, including vapes and hemp flower.
The measure would also require businesses selling delta-8 THC to register their products with the state.
Customers Are Stocking Up, Shop Owner Reports
Even if the new restrictions were passed in Florida, delta-8 would remain widely available in the state. But some delta-8 devotees seem to be looking beyond state borders. At least one hemp shop owner observed increased business as a result of uncertainty around the regulation of delta-8 THC in Texas, according to the report from Miami New Times.
“Back in early November, following Texas' short-lived ban on Delta-8 THC, Jersen Abreu noticed some of his customers at In Da Cut Smoke Shop in Miami preparing for the worst,” wrote Alex DeLuca for the New Times.
“People were like, ‘You think Florida is going to be next?’” Abreu told DeLuca. “They'll buy an extra bag, two bags of gummies, just to hold them down.”
Abreu told DeLuca that many customers use delta-8 THC not for its mind-altering effect, but to relieve pain or other ailments. The uncertainty around its future availability may be working in the shop’s favor for now, but DeLuca reported that Abreu is worried about how restrictions could affect business in the long term — even if it’s an age restriction rather than a complete ban.
“I hope they don't pass the bill," he says. "It'll be really bad for a lot of companies and a lot of smoke shops.”
Some Shop Owners Would Welcome Proposed Regulations
Bjorn Johansen of VaporFi in Miramar told the New Times that delta-8 is one of the most popular products at his store.
Unlike Abreu of In Da Cut Smoke Shop, though, Johansen hasn't noticed increased sales of delta-8 in response to the brief ban and ensuing court battle in Texas over the legality of this THC isomer.
VaporFi voluntarily enforces a 21-and-over restriction on the sale of hemp extracts, and Johansen told DeLuca the bill was "quite good.”
“In other words,” he said, “we welcome this regulation. It is needed.”
Johansen isn’t the only one ready to embrace regulations.
“If it’s cleaning the industry and making it more professional, respectful and making sure that Florida can continue to have the industry successful then I’m all for it,” Cole Peacock, owner of Seed & Bean CBD coffee shop in Fort Myers, told the news station NBC2 shortly after the legislation was proposed.