David Wilson

Florida Ag Committee Advances Industrial Hemp Bill

New legislation in Florida would establish rules for farmers and other businesses to cultivate, manufacture, and sell industrial hemp products.

Full story after the jump.

The Florida Senate’s Agricultural Committee has advanced legislation setting up a framework for farmers and other businesses to cultivate and sell industrial hemp, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Sen. Rob Bradley, a Republican and bill sponsor, said the measure is necessary following changes in federal law last year that legalized industrial hemp.

“The intent here is to get this emerging industry to be viable in the state of Florida and for us to be as cutting edge as possible while also respecting the guide rails … that the federal government has provided in this situation. We’re going to push it. We’re going to keep pushing it.” – Bradley in a Sentinel interview

Under the legislation, oversight of the hemp industry would be relegated to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried includes hemp – and medical cannabis – on her list of priorities.

The bill would require licensed producers and sellers to submit a background check every two years, require a state-certification hemp seed program, and create an industrial hemp advisory board.

Bradley said the proposed regulations “are not meant to be onerous.”

“This is not a reflection of the medical-marijuana system. That is a medicine, a controlled substance, and this is different,” Bradley said in the report. “But it’s also not the same as growing apples or oranges, either, until we evolve this industry and get to a point where perhaps it will be that one day.”

The majority of U.S. states allow some form of hemp production and more are considering comprehensive programs after the federal law changes last year.

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