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CBD could be banned in Florida if hemp bill passes, advocates warn

Steven Lemongello, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in News & Features

ORLANDO, Fla. — CBD, a medication used by millions of Americans to battle a variety of illnesses and anxiety, could be banned entirely in Florida because of a bill that seeks to outlaw synthetic chemicals in hemp that can induce euphoria.

Paige Figi, considered the “mother of CBD” in the U.S. because of her crusade to legalize what became known as Charlotte’s Web, is attempting to sound the alarm about the bill. She is being joined by parents of children who desperately need the product and independent hemp growers worried their businesses would be devastated.

“I just don’t think the lawmakers are taking account of the millions of Floridians that are going to be medically affected by the removal of their health products,” Figi said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.

Figi was one of the key proponents of legalizing CBD both nationally and in Florida, where then-Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill in 2014 giving certain patients access to cannabidiol oils with low levels of THC, the substance that causes euphoria in users.

The CBD company she founded, Charlotte’s Web, was named after her daughter, who had catastrophic epilepsy. CBD helped lessen the severity of her seizures before her death.

Now, as executive director of the pro-CBD group Coalition for Access Now, she has ramped up her efforts to oppose Florida bills HB 1613 and SB 1698.

 

They would redefine legal hemp to a level that would exclude naturally occurring cannabinoids such as CBD, reduce legal THC limits to below the level allowed in federal law, and increase the already rigorous testing on hemp products, according to the group Hemp for Florida.

“This would mean that we would have to shut down our mobile stores,” said Randy Rembert, the manager of hemp producer Rembert Family Farms in Alachua County. “Almost 70% of our bottom line comes from those various products that are being banned. … It also puts our farm in jeopardy, because so many farmers, so many businesses rely on our actual raw material to make their products as well.”

Tracy Thaxton, the mother of an 18-year-old daughter with severe epilepsy and autism, said CBD has almost completely prevented the repeated seizures her daughter once faced daily.

“Just the thought of this going through, it’s very scary to us,” said Thaxton, who lives outside Panama City. “Will we have to move? What’s going to happen to her? It’s not like I can just give her something else, you know?”

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