Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Will Florida become a hemp ‘pioneer?’ Senate panel gives hemp program the green light.

“We want to be a leader in hemp, rather than a follower.”
AP Photo/Don Ryan
Published Mar. 25

A bill aimed at making the hemp plant an agricultural option for farmers across the state took a second step forward Monday, passing unanimously through the Senate agriculture committee.

Bill sponsor Sen. Rob Bradley said this bill aims to make Florida a “pioneer" when it comes to the burgeoning crop.

The Fleming Island Republican’s SB 1020 authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to administer a state hemp program and sets up rulemaking and a board of experts to develop the system. The idea is modeled after what Kentucky has done to revitalize farmland once used by the tobacco industry, Bradley said.

Hemp, a form of the cannabis plant, contains only trace amounts of THC — the naturally occurring component in marijuana that produces a high — and uses less water and fertilizer to grow. Hemp has been cultivated for approximately 10,000 years, according to the University of Florida’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Project, and can be used for fiber, building materials, animal feed and pain relief.

The 2018 Farm Bill allows a state department of agriculture to submit a plan to the United States Secretary of Agriculture and apply for primary regulatory authority over the production of hemp in their state. The plan, which is required under Bradley’s bill, must include a procedure for tracking land upon which hemp will be produced as well as testing, disposal, enforcement, inspection and certification procedures.

The bill doesn’t allow for Floridians to grow hemp for individual use, which is also not allowed under the federal farm bill.

Bradley’s bill also authorizes the department to oversee the development of pilot projects for the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at UF, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and any university in the state that has an agriculture program.

“Because there will be unforeseen issues, it’s good to have experts in the industry to get together and discuss the challenges and the opportunities that are present,” he told the committee.

The bill passed its first committee stop unanimously on March 6, and will be heard in the Senate Rules committee next.

A similar House version of Bradley’s proposal sponsored by Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo is being heard Tuesday.

Sen. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican who chairs the Senate agriculture committee, has also filed a similar bill to create a state hemp program

According to the bill’s staff analysis, at least 38 states considered legislation related to industrial hemp last year. Those bills ranged from clarifying existing laws to establishing new licensing requirements and programs. In 2018, Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey and Oklahoma enacted established hemp research and industrial hemp pilot programs.

Jeffrey Sharkey of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida helped write the legislation that authorized the Department of Agriculture to issue hemp field study permits through Florida A&M and the University of Florida.

UF’s two-year program is housed on three sites across the state, where researchers are studying the risk of hemp plants becoming invasive threats as well as identifying hemp varieties suitable for Florida’s various environments. The first sponsor of the pilot was Green Roads, a CBD oil manufacturer.

Researchers have since said that hemp is proving successful at adapting to Florida’s growing conditions, which vary dramatically across the state. A staff analysis of Bradley’s bill said Florida farmers will likely benefit economically by the opportunity to plant, process and sell hemp and hemp-based products.

Bradley said he hopes the Legislature understand that the bill’s intent is to get an emerging industry to be viable in the state of Florida “while also considering the guides” the federal government has provided in the farm bill.

“It’s not the same as growing apples and oranges,” he said. “We want to be a leader in hemp, rather than a follower.”

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. United States Air Force veteran Daniel Carmichael, of Inverness, shares his opinion before a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners of Citrus County on Tuesday, November 19, 2019, at the Citrus County Courthouse in Inverness, where the Citrus County Commission is expected to render a decision on whether to get digital subscriptions for the New York Times for all 70,000 of the county library cardholders. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes
    After two hours of debate, a motion to move forward with digital subscriptions for library cardholders fails 3-2.
  2. Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at pre-legislative news conference on Tuesday Oct. 29, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    He’s got a new voucher proposal, as well.
  3. FILE - This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry, shows Jeffrey Epstein. Two correctional officers responsible for guarding Jeffrey Epstein the night before he took his own life are expected to face criminal charges this week for falsifying prison records. That’s according to two people familiar with the matter. The federal charges could come as soon as Tuesday and are the first in connection with Epstein’s death.. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File) AP
    “The FBI is involved and they are looking at criminal enterprise, yes,” said the nation’s top prisons administrator to Senators on Tuesday.
  4. The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts illuminated its new sign for the first time on Dec. 6, 2010. Times (2010)
    The historic donation that renamed the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center is still impacting Tampa Bay’s arts community.
  5. In this Thursday, Aug. 1, file photo, Amanda Kondrat'yev, the woman accused of throwing a sports drink at U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz in June outside a town hall meeting, arrives at Winston Arnow Federal Court House in Pensacola, Fla. Kondrat'yev has been sentenced to 15 days in federal custody for throwing the sports drink at Gaetz. TONY GIBERSON  |  AP
    Amanda Kondrat’yev pleaded guilty to assault in August and had faced up to a year in jail.
  6. On the issue of whether to retroactively apply changes in Florida’s sentencing laws to inmates currently in prison, Gov. Ron DeSantis says he prefers to deal with cases using the clemency process. STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    Hundreds of Florida inmates are serving sentences no longer in state law, according to new research.
  7. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing $1 billion in increased teacher pay as part of a $91.4 billion state budget he put forward on Monday. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    The Florida governor also wants to hire hundreds of new corrections officers and spend $1.4 billion on hurricane recovery.
  8. FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2019, file photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks before the arrival of President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    University of Florida student body president Michael Murphy received a resolution for his impeachment Tuesday. Then the state’s Republican Party started an online petition and fundraiser.
  9. Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, filed a bill, HB 1161, to implement online voter registration in 2018.
    This week, GOP senators rallied support around Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, to become Senate president for the 2023 and 2024 legislative session.
  10. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, right, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Friday, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. SUSAN WALSH  |  AP
    Experts on foreign policy said it was ridiculous to think that one person could turn a country “bad.”
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement