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Do I Need a Permit to Sell CBD Products in Florida?

In 2018, the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 was signed into law, authorizing the production of hemp and removing hemp and hemp seeds from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) list of controlled substances. The act also allowed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide guidance to implement a program that would help establish the regulatory framework regarding the production of hemp throughout the United States.

Following the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, Senate Bill 1020 in Florida was signed. This bill provided a state plan for the regulation of cultivating hemp within Florida. Under the bill, hemp-derived cannabinoids are not controlled substances so long as the hemp derivates do not exceed a total delta-9 tetrahydro cannibal (THC) concentration of 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. Any product with a THC concentration over 0.3 percent is considered a controlled substance.

General Licensing Requirements

Although consumers may buy and use hemp-based products within the legalized concentration range without a license, those who wish to grow, sell, and distribute hemp-based products have obligations before they can legally do so. The licensing requirements are regulated under § 581.217 of the state hemp program within the Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services (FDACS).

Hemp Cultivation

Any person who seeks to cultivate hemp must apply to the FDACS for a license and submit fingerprints along with the form. After obtaining the license, the licensee has multiple obligations including but not limited to 1) complying with the licensee’s environmental containment plan, 2) complying with the Hemp Waste Disposal Manual, 3) only cultivating on lands that are primarily for bona fide agricultural purposes, and 4) posting signage at every cultivation access point with the department issued license number and cultivation location. Further requirements are outlined in 5B-57.014(5).

Home growing is generally not permitted, with exceptions to a small number of registered nurseries on residential properties.

Distribution and Retail Sale of Hemp Extract

Food establishments that prepare and/or sell prepacked food containing hemp extract must have a hemp food establishment permit from the Division of Food Safety within the FDACS. Establishments that manufacture, process, pack, hold, or prepare food containing hemp extract intended for human ingestion must also have a hemp food establishment permit from the Division of Food Safety within the FDACS.

The distribution and retail sale of hemp extract in the state is authorized according to § 581.217(7) if the product:

  1. Has a certificate of analysis prepared by an independent testing laboratory that states:
    1. The hemp extract is the product of a batch tested by the independent testing laboratory;
    2. The batch contained a total delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration that did not exceed 0.3 percent pursuant to the testing of a random sample of the batch;
    3. The batch does not contain contaminants unsafe for human consumption; and
    4. The batch was processed in a facility that holds a current and valid permit issued by a human health or food safety regulatory entity with authority over the facility, and that facility meets the human health or food safety sanitization requirements of the regulatory entity. Such compliance must be documented by a report from the regulatory entity confirming that the facility meets such requirements.
  2. Is distributed or sold in a container that includes:
    1. A scannable barcode or quick response code linked to the certificate of analysis of the hemp extract batch by an independent testing laboratory;
    2. The batch number;
    3. The Internet address of a website where batch information may be obtained;
    4. The expiration date; and
    5. The number of milligrams of each marketed cannabinoid per serving.
  3. Is distributed or sold in a container that:
    1. Is suitable to contain products for human consumption;
    2. Is composed of materials designed to minimize exposure to light;
    3. Mitigates exposure to high temperatures;
    4. Is not attractive to children; and
    5. Is compliant with the United States Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970, 15 U.S.C. ss. 1471 et seq., without regard to provided exemptions.

The statute defines hemp extract as a substance or compound containing more than a trace amount of a cannabinoid intended for ingestion, or a substance deriving from or containing hemp meant for inhalation. This does not include synthetic cannabidiol or seeds/seed-derived ingredients that are generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

It is important to note that the sale of topical CBD products is not required to be licensed by the FDACS and is rather regulated by the Florida Division of Business and Professional Regulation. Additionally, there may be further requirements for CBD products that contain dairy or frozen ingredients.

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It should be noted that I am not your lawyer (unless you have presently retained my services through a retainer agreement). This post is not intended as legal advice, it is purely educational and informational, and no attorney-client relationship shall result after reading it. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. If you do not have one and would like to retain my legal services, please contact me using the contact information listed above.

All information and references made to laws, rules, regulations, and advisory opinions were accurate based on the law as it existed at this time, but laws are constantly evolving. Please contact me to be sure that the law which will govern your business is current. Thank you.