There were 305 vendors, and 51 speakers, promoting their wares at the USA CBD Expo which made its Florida debut at the Miami Beach Convention Center August 2-4, 2019. Convention attendees could sample CBD-infused energy drinks, edibles, cocktails, skin treatments, and more.
CBD, short for cannabinoid oil, is the non-psychoactive compound extracted from the hemp plant. Many brands promote cannabis oil for pain relief, but Florida regulations are still somewhat unclear regarding the growing and distribution of hemp products throughout the state.
What Is A CBD Expo?
Zach Badar, a co-founder of the expo, is a managing partner of an electronic cigarette distributor based in New York. He created the vibrant CBD expo, the first of its kind in the U.S., as a way to promote the burgeoning hemp industry and the plant’s many uses.
Since 1937, hemp has been on the Federal controlled substances list. But last December, the federal government passed the Federal Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, referred to as the Farm Bill, which removed restrictions on hemp and changed its classification to an agricultural commodity.
This means hemp is no longer under the purview of the Drug Enforcement Administration and can enjoy interstate commerce without reprisal. However, individual states can still impose their own regulations and restrictions on hemp. And the Food and Drug Administration has oversight of topical and ingestible CBD products.
Why South Beach?
Badar said his team chose South Beach after speaking with over 10,000 local businesses who expressed the most interest in CBD products.
Despite having no legal hemp plants in the state, Florida leads the nation in the production of many hemp-based products such as oils, bath bombs, and lotions.
Florida’s state government is looking to expand on the states hemp commerce. Nikki Fried, the current Agricultural Commissioner, based her campaign on a cannabis-centered platform. She believes the demand for CBD products will benefit the state’s economy, creating jobs, and increasing revenue.
Once elected, Fried immediately started making good on her campaign promises by appointing Holly Bell as the state’s first Director of Cannabis. Bell and her team are drafting language to clarify what is legal for growing hemp, as pertains to both state and federal law.
In July, the Florida State Legislature passed a bill allowing for the creation of a state hemp program under the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The new law provides guidelines for those interested in selling hemp and the CBD extract. These regulations include requirements like third-party testing and product labeling that states no more than 0.3% THC.
Where Does Florida Law Stand?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the regulatory plan submitted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The Farm Bill requires states to issue cultivation permits before anyone can start planting hemp. The FDACS anticipates that the rulemaking for the permit process should be completed soon and they can begin issuing cultivation permits by October 2019 at the earliest.
Currently, there are no CBD product standards for the state of Florida. Once the hemp legislation becomes law, then the FDACS can start the testing and regulating process of CBD products to ensure their safety for the end consumers.
There will be several FDACS divisions over-seeing the different aspects of hemp cultivation and production. Issues concerning hemp seeds and fertilizer will fall under the purview of the Division of Agricultural Environmental Services. The Division of Plant Industry will regulate the growing and maintenance of hemp plants. The Division of Food Safety will monitor the manufacturing, processing, and retailing of hemp and CBD.
What About Edible and Topical CBD?
The FDA has authority over the regulation of CBD in foods, beverages, and cosmetics thanks to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which prohibits the misbranding or adulteration of those products. The FDA currently maintains that CBD is an impermissible additive. However, the FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner recently issued a statement announcing plans to accelerate the development of new regulations specific to CBD.
Even though the federal guidelines have yet to be worked out, Florida is on the path towards clarity at the state level. The new legislation is laying down solid groundwork for the future development of a thriving hemp industry. Until the federal government can reach a regulatory coherence on the nuances of hemp, marijuana, and CBD, there will likely be more questions than answers. But as the success of the USA CBD Expo shows, the American public is more than ready for a more comprehensive array of safe CBD-based goods.