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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 sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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