1. Business

Is CBD legal in Florida? And other common hemp questions

Published Apr. 25

What is CBD and where does it come from?

It stands for cannabidiol and is a compound found in the hemp plant and its cousin marijuana.

Why is it everywhere all of a sudden?

Late last year, Congress removed hemp — and extracts such as CBD — from the federal government's list of illegal drugs. That's so long as it comes from a licensed grower and has no more than trace amounts of another compound that gets users high. So people started selling it.

Yes, but why do people buy it?

Proponents say CBD has natural healing properties, though that is largely unproven because the federal government has not allowed wide-scale study of its medicinal value.

READ MORE: How CBD blew up faster than Florida could regulate it

Is it legal to buy or sell CBD in Florida?

The answer is contested. Some lawyers argue the federal government's action trumps Florida laws, which generally don't differentiate hemp from marijuana. Others say hemp is still illegal in Florida until the Legislature says otherwise.

Can you give me a little more, here?

Well, the Florida Department of Agriculture has said it's not legal to sell hemp or CBD in the state. But Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is pushing legislation currently under consideration that would make state and federal law consistent. Police have been mostly hands-off in the meantime. The few examples of police cracking down have been against retailers, not consumers.

Are you sure CBD won't get me high?

CBD itself does not get users high. Hemp grown legally in the U.S. can contain no more than .3 percent of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. That is what gets users high from pot. The trace amount in legal hemp is not enough to produce a high. Although hemp is in the cannabis family, it is not marijuana.

READ MORE: I took a CBD bong hit before a yoga class to see if it helps with anxiety

So how much THC is in marijuana?

It varies widely depending on the strain and how it is prepared and consumed. THC levels can range from 3 to 9 percent or more, and much greater if it is extracted directly from the plant.

Who is regulating CBD?

The short answer: no one in Florida. The new federal law sets up a pathway for states to create their own industrial hemp program and makes them responsible for regulation. That means there is no formal body ensuring the CBD you buy at the store is what the label says it is. If the bill before state lawmakers passes, the Agriculture Department will subject retailers and manufactures to lab testing to ensure products are safe.

How do I get real and safe CBD?

Read labels and ask questions. If the first ingredient in a product is "hemp seed oil" and not CBD or hemp extract, you may be getting swindled. Ask retailers where the hemp is sourced from and if they do third-party lab tests. If they don't do testing or the hemp is from outside of the U.S., be skeptical.

Does CBD have any side effects?

Known side effects after ingesting CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability. A report from Harvard Heath Publishing says the compound can "raise levels of certain other medications in your blood." Consult a doctor before adding CBD to your daily regimen, especially if you're on medications.

Contact Sara DiNatale at Follow @sara_dinatale.


  1. Port Tampa Bay president and CEO Paul Anderson. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times (2017)]
    Port commissioners approved the raise after a year with milestone achievements on several fronts.
  2. A rendering of the proposed Edge Collective in St. Petersburg's Edge District. Storyn Studio for Architecture
    The "Hall on Central'' will be managed by Tampa’s Hall on Franklin team.
  3. Mango Plaza in Seffner has sold for $12.49 million. The plaza is anchored by a Publix and Walmart, making it attractive to a Baltimore investment firm. (Continental Realty Corporation)
    Mango Plaza’s new owners are based out of Baltimore.
  4. The Southernmost Point marker in Key West. CAROL TEDESCO  |  AP
    The travel website put the Florida Keys on its list of places not to visit.
  5. Philanthropist David Straz Jr. and his wife Catherine celebrate in March after he advanced into the Tampa mayoral run-off election. Mr. Straz has died at the age of 77. TAILYR IRVINE  |  Times
    The former mayoral candidate who lost to Tampa Mayor Jane Castor earlier this year, died Monday while on a fishing trip in Homosassa. His name, and legacy, are integral to Tampa.
  6. The Chick-fil-A on Dale Mabry in South Tampa. The company announced Monday it will no longer donate to The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
    The groups have faced criticism for their opposition to same-sex marriage.
  7. Candice Anderson, left, and Alsace Walentine, co-owners of Tombolo Books, rearrange books as attendees of the Times Festival of Reading leave the University Student Center behind them. [Jack Evans | Times]
    The shop plans to open next to Black Crow on First Ave. S before the new year.
  8. An opened capsule containing Kratom. The Clearwater City Council was confronted by dozens of concerned citizens at a recent meeting who urged them not to ban the herbal supplement. Times
    “Our recommendation right now is, we don’t think there’s a need to regulate it.”
  9. BayCare Health Systems now plans to build a $200 million, 60-bed hospital along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. The company previously planned to build on 111 acres further north adjacent to Interstate 75 and an interchange to built at Overpass Road. Shown his the main entrance to BayCare's St. Joseph's Hospital North on Van Dyke Road in Lutz. Times
    BayCare plans a $200 million, 60-bed hospital on land it owns along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard
  10. Damian J. Fernandez, center, is introduced Monday as the new president of Eckerd College. He will succeed longtime president Donald R. Eastman III on July 1. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Damian Fernandez, 62, will succeed president Donald R. Eastman III, who steps down June 30 after leading the school for 19 years.