Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Tuesday, July 23, establishing the first agricultural hemp pilot program in Florida.
The bill, SB1020, authorizes the creation of a state hemp program, which allows farmers to grow hemp in Florida, for commercial use with proper licensure. Both the Florida Senate and House voted for the bill unanimously on May 3 of this year, sending the measure to the governor for signing.
The Senate bill, sponsored by Senate Appropriations Chair Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island), is expected to help Florida farmers who have been affected by hurricanes and citrus diseases.
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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a supporter of the hemp bill, believes the measure will give a much-needed boost to Florida’s farm sector and rural areas. According to Fried, Florida may become a leader in hemp production, since the state’s climate makes it a good place to grow the crop.
Hemp, while related to marijuana, has a variety of uses, ranging from animal feed, fabrics for clothing, rope, and building materials. Many CBD oils and CBD-based products are also manufactured using hemp.
The demand for CBD oil and other hemp-based products have increased steadily in the last few years, though most of the raw hemp and hemp seed used to produce these products in the United States are imported from other countries. This bill will allow Florida to become one of the first few states to enter the hemp production market since hemp is grown in very few states currently.
What the Bill Means For Hemp Producers in Florida
The legalization of hemp in Florida opens up a new market for agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing in the state. Farmers will be able to legally grow and harvest hemp in the state. Since hemp is a relatively versatile crop, it will likely serve as a good supplementary crop for many struggling farms.
The creation of a hemp industry in Florida also means benefits for the pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries. Hemp-based medication and consumer goods may see a rise in production, which would boost the local economy, creating more jobs with fewer imports.
Starting a hemp business in Florida? Talk to our Marijuana Law Division attorneys at The Aguilera Law Center.
Because of hemp’s versatility, it can grow in most moderate climates, though it does best in warmer weather. Therefore, it stands to reason that Florida’s climate may yield very good hemp harvests and draw new farmers to the market or help existing ones supplement their earnings with a durable crop.
This increases the possibilities and opportunities for hemp in the marketplace, from food to materials, to health supplements and pharmaceuticals. Though hemp is not expected to become Florida’s main crop, it will create more business and more jobs, while also providing an alternative to imported hemp.
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Universities and other research institutions in the state are also granted permission by the bill to cultivate and research hemp. This will lead to a safer, proven process for the implementation in Florida’s agricultural sector. Schools, such as the University of Florida and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, will establish hemp research programs, which will be closely monitored by the Florida Department of Agriculture.
Although the effects and benefits of CBD are yet to be entirely proven, studies suggest it has therapeutic qualities for a variety of health concerns. Demand for CBD oil and CBD-based medication has grown in recent years, leading to the creation of FDA-approved medicines like Epidiolex.
Legalizing the growth of hemp in Florida may allow an increase in the production of CBD oil and medications, as well as the opportunity to research the medical benefits of CBD and what conditions it can be used for.
Hemp manufacturing will see large growth with the implementation of this bill. Hemp can be used to create a wide variety of consumer goods, including clothing, cardboard, rope, horse bedding, newsprint, and insulation. Hemp fibers are also being used to create a fiberglass alternative for vehicle parts. Hemp seeds are also used to manufacture methanol, salad oils, soaps, inks, and paints.
Hemp is a versatile crop, both in its growth and in its uses. It makes a great, eco-friendly alternative to many regular plastic products. Hemp plastic is 100% biodegradable, and hemp consumes 4 times more carbon dioxide than any other plant. With hemp being grown in Florida, creating hemp plastic, as well as other hemp goods, will be easier and cheaper than before.
Looking to start a business in the Florida hemp industry? Get in touch with The Marijuana Law Division at The Aguilera Law Center.