Holly Bell, director of cannabis for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said she is waiting for the Florida governor to sign the hemp bill and for it to become effective on July 1. She plans to get public input in rules around the growing and distribution of hemp, acceptable amounts of contaminants, standards around testing laboratories, procedures for issuing and renewing licenses, and repercussions for violating state requirements. She expects to have an outline in late fall of what the rules will be. Bell said her goal is for hemp-derived goods in Florida to require a certificate of analysis, which is a lab report on the chemical make-up of a product. However, her department will regulate only CBD products that are consumed — nothing topical, vaped or considered a pharmaceutical.
Still, she said the onus at this time is on the buyer. “Do some research; there are a lot of great books you can read,” she said. “Also, know the person in front of you may not have any more experience with the product than you do. a lot of stores will have them on hand to show you.” Consumers want CBD. In Boca Raton, Alec Vindas greets a steady stream of customers who wander into Health Synergy, a CBD hemp oil dispensary that carries its own brand of products, including capsules, oils, gummies and salves. Many patrons are seniors with anxiety, sleeping issues or aches and pains from inflammation or arthritis. They are looking for relief and have heard of CBD’s medicinal benefits.
Vindas and his co-workers assess the customer’s ailment. Different conditions require different methods of intake.” While Health Synergy products say they are derived from organically sourced hemp plants, the ingredient lists are vague and the website offers this disclosure: “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to replace the recommendations of medical practitioners. The products sold on this website are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.” Still, Sherae Duncan, a 55-year-old in West Florida, says CBD oil has been the solution to her extreme pain after dozens of surgeries resulting from a car accident. “I was on 20 pharmaceuticals and now I am on none,” she said. Duncan said the oils that she drops under her tongue not only provide pain relief, but also help with her cognitive function. She now speaks publicly about the benefits of CBD and belongs to the CBD oil users Facebook group. But she says she only buys online directly from manufacturers who can provide third-party lab tests to ensure quality. Like Duncan, Andrew Felix of Boca Raton said he also uses CBD products to treat pain. “I take it two or three times a day so I don’t feel the pain,” he said. After his positive experience, he convinced his grandfather to use CBD lotion for his arthritis. Felix said he will only buy the CBD products from doctors’ offices. “I will not use CBD that isn’t third-party tested,” he said. Along with local testimonials, high-profile celebrities are bringing attention to this wellness trend. Athletes like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson chewed CBD gum at the Masters to calm their nerves. A-listers including Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, and Kim Kardashian are some of CBDs biggest proponents, openly revealing they use bath tonics, lotions and gummies to alleviate pain or anxiety. From candies to cosmetics to pet products, CBD is expanding to new product categories. For example, Ben & Jerry’s just announced its plan to launch a CBD-infused ice cream once CBD is legal at the federal level to add to food and beverages. The maker of Oreo cookies has expressed interest, too. Although Congress legalized the sale of CBD-infused topical products, like creams and ointments, it still prohibits CBD in anything that can be ingested. Some states are beginning to put rules in place to help consumers better understand what’s in CBD products and how to use them. Indiana, for example, now mandates that manufacturers label CBD products with QR codes that can be scanned to show whether they contain acceptable levels of THC, CBD, pesticides and other compounds. Florida does not require labeling with a QR code at this time. Veritas, headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, considers itself one of the quality players in the industry. It sells in multiple states and puts a QR code on all products.
The company operates its hemp growing and manufacturing facility in Colorado, but sees opportunity in Florida, which it calls “a huge health and wellness market and the perfect state for this industry to gravitate." Veritas sells many of its 50 CBD products in Florida through chiropractors, small retailers and grocers, as well as online and in CVS stores outside the state.
The company is developing a skin care line, pet goods and wellness items for medical practitioners.