State lawmakers are on the verge of allowing farmers to grow industrialized Florida hemp. If passed by the Florida Legislature, the new law will bring hemp production into the third most populous state in the country, and one that excels in agriculture.
State lawmakers have passed a bill out of committee that would set up a regulated system for the cultivation, sale, and distribution of hemp in the state. Hemp became legal at the federal level in December 2018, when Congress passed the Farm Bill.
Passage of the state legislation could open a new market for marijuana consumers and have a big impact on the Sunshine State’s agriculture.
How big? State Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried estimates a Florida hemp program could lead to $20 billion to $30 billion in annual revenue for the state within five years.
Uses for Hemp
Florida hemp has the potential for use in creating thousands of products. One of the most popular uses is the creation of CBD products. Hemp contains CBD, but has only trace amounts of THC, the chemical ingredient in cannabis that causes the high.
There are many other uses as well. Hemp is used in the creation of clothes, boxes, cups, water bottles and many other items often associated with plastic.
Fried, in an interview with WJCT Public Media, said the state is hoping that entrepreneurs will “think bigger than just CBD…who is going to be creating the relationships with McDonald’s and Burger King to replace their Styrofoam? Who’s going to be reaching out to Dasani to do their water bottles?”
Fried would oversee the program. She has long been an advocate for marijuana, including the recent removal of a ban in Florida on smokable cannabis.
Leading the Pack
With approval at the federal level, some states have been scrambling to get their own hemp programs up and running. They will have to catch up with places like Kentucky, which has been at the forefront of the hemp industry.
Florida Sen. Rob Bradley, who sponsored the legislation, told High Times that the state needs to move quickly to get out in front. “We want to be a leader in hemp, rather than a follower,” he said.
The Florida Farm Bureau certainly thinks that is a possibility. The agency said that the Sunshine State is perfectly situated for hemp because of the environment, an established distribution system to a worldwide market and “innovative farming.”
Researchers at the University of Florida are already looking for the right combination of genetics and cropping systems that will work best for Florida hemp. University researchers have already held workshops with more than 300 people who are interested in farming hemp in Florida.
All this is good news for consumers, who may soon have access to a host of products made with hemp grown in Florida.