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Hemp in Florida: The Next Green Industrial Revolution?

Hemp in Florida: The Next Green Industrial Revolution?
by intern

July 5, 2019

By: Tara Tedrow and Samantha Duran

On June 25, 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1020 (“SB 1020”) which creates an industrial hemp program in Florida and regulates the statewide cultivation and sale of hemp products. Since the 2018 Farm Bill’s removal of hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, Florida’s subsequent legislative changes were a highly anticipated move that could lead to the next green industrial revolution as the global hemp industry is already estimated in the billions with rapid growth expected. With the passage of SB 1020, Florida’s agriculture and business communities are anticipated to reap the benefits.

SB 1020 requires any person or business seeking to cultivate, process, or sell hemp in Florida to meet certain requirements. A person or business seeking to cultivate hemp must apply for and obtain a license from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (“FDACS”), provide the FDACS with a legal land description and GPS coordinates of the area where hemp will be cultivated, and only use seeds and cultivars which are certified by a certifying agency or university. Further, SB 1020 requires any person or business seeking to sell hemp to have the hemp extract tested by an independent testing laboratory to ensure that the THC concentration does not exceed .3 percent by dry weight and to comply with specific additional requirements, including product labeling.

The bill also requires that the FDACS consult with the Department of Health and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to adopt more specified rules regulating the hemp industry. Proposed rules have been published by FDACS in draft form which show additional areas of expected regulation. A copy of such rules can be found online (Click Here). Notably, the proposed rules require the posting of an agricultural bond and the submittal of an environmental containment plan and a waste disposal plan. Also, all licensees must maintain documentation showing compliance with various aspects of the rules that must be produced to the FDACS at any time. The proposed rules also regulate how hemp is cultivated including specific standards for seeds, limits on pesticides, and limits on residual solvents.

While the passage of SB 1020 creates exciting opportunities for the hemp industry in Florida, industry hopefuls have expressed at rulemaking workshops that compliance with the regulations appear daunting. However, given Florida’s unique farming economy and the incredible support from Commissioner Nikki Fried for the potential of this cash crop, getting in on the forefront of Florida’s newest industrial hemp program may be well worth it.

If you have questions regarding the regulation of the hemp industry please contact Tara Tedrow at 407-418-6361 or tara.tedrow@lowndes-law.com

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