PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Adam Wick began selling Delta-8 products at his Healthy Hemp Outlet store on Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg about nine months ago. He admits that he initially felt apprehensive about doing so since he’s been an advocate for the "non-feeling" variety of hemp which has helped him build up his business over the past four years.

“But as I saw the client pool coming in, the demographic wasn’t what I was sort of worried about,” he says. “It was adults that needed help to sleep, that had aches and pains.”

What You Need To Know

  • Delta-8 THC is legal in Florida, but state lawmakers intend to regulate it.

  • More than a dozen states have banned or restricted its use.

  • The FDA says Delta-8 THC has psychoactive and intoxicating effects.

But that part of his business could be in jeopardy based on legislation recently introduced in the Florida Legislature that aims to regulate Delta-8 products with the Department of Agriculture.

“One of the provisions of the bill that is a mandate is not to sell this to anyone under 21 years of age, so the end goal, if that’s what you’re asking, is to keep this product out of the hands of minors,”  Fort Myers House Republican Spencer Roach told reporters at a press conference at the Capitol today.

Delta-8 is legal, as per the 2018 Farm Bill which distinguished hemp from marijuana and has become popular at stores like Healthy Hemp Outlet.

Hemp and marijuana come from the same species of plant, but hemp can’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC – the main psychoactive ingredient that provides the “high” when ingesting cannabis. But Delta-8 also has psychoactive and intoxicating effects, says the FDA. That’s prompted more than a dozen states this year to ban or restrict its use, eliminating the so-called “Delta-8 loophole'' which comes from the Farm Bill.

One aim of that legislation was to distinguish between hemp, a non-intoxicating product, with marijuana, which is considered to be intoxicating, says Jonathan Miller, the general counsel for the U.S Hemp Roundtable. 

“I have to admit I didn’t know and most members of Congress at the time had never heard of Delta-8 THC at that point,” says Miller, who was involved in helping draft the bill.  “But since then, a lot of innovation has happened, and folks figured out that they were able to convert hemp-derived CBD into Delta-8 THC.”

Wick says that whether or not he’ll be able to legally sell Delta-8 in the future has clouded his plans regarding whether to expand his business. Rental prices in downtown St. Pete continue to rise, prompting him to consider moving further uptown.

"I hope that when they [the Legislature] look at this, they look at what’s happened already in the industry,” he says. “We’ve got almost a year [of selling this] and I don’t see any cause for alarm. I’m okay if they want to regulate it, much as the same as alcohol. I don’t think a teenager should be able to walk in here and acquire it or do it online either.”

Miller says that he doesn’t want to see Delta-8 banned but instead sold in dispensaries like medical marijuana currently is in Florida. “Let’s not market it as hemp. Let’s not sell it in grocery stores and vape shops where minors can purchase it unknowingly,” he says.

Along with the provisions regulating Delta-8, the bipartisan marijuana legislation (which in addition to Roach is co-sponsored by Hillsborough County Democrat Andrew Learned in the House and Sarasota Republican Joe Gruters and Broward County Democrat Shevrin Jones in the Senate) include these proposals:

  • Two-year medical marijuana license cards and 8-month doctor appointments which together will cut the costs of participation in the medical marijuana program by over 60%.
  • Telehealth recertification of medical marijuana doctor visits which helps make participation in the program cheaper, simpler, and more convenient for our patients.
  • Restrictions on marijuana doctor advertising towards children and in online spaces.
  • End the practice for Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers to “flip” their licenses for monetary gain without having to ever sell actual products which reduce options for Florida patients.
  • New testing regimes that keep products safe, increase transparency and start creating recommendations on effective DUI roadside testing to keep our streets safe.