Cannabis community worried over proposed bill restricting hemp sales
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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — When Pablo Bicca returned home, he’ll be the first to admit he struggled.

“Came back, as I said, to another war,” Bicca recalled. “A quiet war, the mental health.”

The Iraq combat veteran said he tried pharmaceuticals, but they didn’t work after a while. He even got a medical marijuana card, but that has limits on how much you can buy.

“In 2012, my PTSD got to a point where I was suicidal,” Bicca said. “Where I didn’t know if I was going to make it to the next day.”

That’s when Bicca, who goes by ‘Sixteen Twenty Marine,’ said he found cannabis, hemp and other THC products. Now, he says a new bill in Tallahassee could impact the relief he’s found from those very same products.

“As patients, there’s no way that we can use two milligrams,” Bicca said. “There’s no medicinal use in using two milligrams.”

Senate Bill 1676 would limit the amount of THC in hemp packages to two milligrams and states the packages shouldn’t be attractive to children.

Members of the cannabis community on a Zoom call with State Senator Colleen Burton. (WFLA)

In a statement, bill sponsor State Senator Colleen Burton said:

Those large and small agribusinesses adhering to current Florida rules and regulations through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services should not be concerned by the proposed legislation. SB 1676 and HB 1475 simply create a regulatory framework for the safe production and sale of products made with hemp extract. Floridians should feel safe with products being sold in our State. They should have confidence knowing hemp extract products are not marketed in a way that may be confusing or misleading for children who may mistake it for candy.

State Senator Colleen Burton, (R) Lakeland

While cannabis advocates agree on preventing minors from getting their hands on THC products, they say inspections are already taking care of that.

“They’ve used examples of counterfeit products that are shipped in here from California,” said Tom Quigley. “That are sold on the black market as representative of what we sell. It’s not what we sell.”

Quigley is the founder of the Florida Cannabis Coalition.

“Two milligrams will eliminate every full spectrum CBD product that’s in the market,” Quigley explained. “And eliminate almost 10,000 different businesses’ opportunity to sell these products.”

Quigley said the bill would be a death sentence for small businesses.

“We all have a lot to lose if this bill goes through,” Quigley said.

Quigley also pointed out a lot of THC products are sold in 50, 100 or even more milligrams in the container, so putting a two-milligram cap would cost customers hundreds.

“There’s no reason to make laws,” Bicca said. “And make these rules that doesn’t really benefit patients.”

Some members of the cannabis community had a Zoom call with Senator Burton Friday. She told them the two-milligram number would probably be changed, but they don’t believe that’s enough. If it becomes law, the bill would go into effect on July 1.

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