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Regulating the state's hemp industry

Posted at 10:24 PM, Jun 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-20 22:24:44-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Industrial hemp is legally growing in Florida for the first time in decades. This as the state hemp bill is has been sitting on the governor’s desk since June 14th ready to be signed. 

Governor Ron Desantis has until June 30th to sign the state hemp program bill that passed through this legislative session, but seeds have already been planted at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. These are the first hemp plants to be legally grown in the state since the 1950s.

Since industrial hemp will be a new crop for the state, “there are concerns over how it will be regulated within the state, how do we grow it, how do we produce it,” said Pamella Seay, Florida Gulf Coast University Criminal Justice Professor.

But the state’s Department of Agriculture is confident i, “hemp could become a crop of the future for Florida agriculture,” and became a billion dollar industry, said Holly Bell, Florida’s Director of Cannabis.

Now hemp and marijuana may look a lot a like but they are different. Hemp has a 0.3 THC level or lower. The crop can be used for clothing, food, soaps and won’t give you that ‘high’ that you think of. There are at least 25,000 uses for hemp. 

Marijuana on the other hand contains a 0.3 THC level or higher, it’s a different type of plant and used for medical purposes. 

“My concern is we don’t have tests available that can quickly let anyone know which one is which,” said Professor Seay.

Once the governor signs the dotted line, “that’s when our department will start the rule making process and establish the parameters for the new state hemp program. This is a detailed regulatory process and it’s important that we get this right,” said Bell.  

Hemp workshops have been taking place this month across the state to get input from people on how the crop should be regulated — the next one is Friday in Tampa. 

If this hemp bill is signed by Governor DeSantis, it becomes law July 1st.