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On Tuesday, June 25th Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 1020 into law, establishing an agricultural Hemp Program in Florida. This new program is expected to "jumpstart" the state's struggling agricultural industry, expand commercial opportunities for hemp extract and CBD products, and create new markets for a plethora of other hemp items from clothing to animal feed to building products and much more. Hemp extract, a substance or compound intended for ingestion that is derived from hemp, must not have a THC concentration exceeding 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. Florida’s new Hemp law is in effect as of July 1, 2019. 

The new Hemp program will be housed under the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is enthusiastically promoting Florida as a leader in hemp production, given the state’s mild climate. The new program will also help Florida farmers who have recently suffered from the devastating impacts of hurricanes and citrus crop diseases. While citrus will remain the state’s number one agricultural product, citrus farmers will now have an option of supplementing their groves with hemp.

The new law requires that within 30 days after adopting rules, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services must seek approval from the United States Secretary of Agriculture in accordance 82 with 7 U.S.C. s. 1639p for the regulation of the cultivation of hemp. To that end, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has released DRAFT rule 5B-57.014 State Hemp Program and is seeking written comment and input from the public until July 19.  

This is the opportunity for all interested parties to help structure the creation of Florida’s hemp industry. Companies or individuals looking to capitalize on the state’s new hemp program are advised to seek experienced government relations counsel before submitting public comments before the comment period closes on July 19, 2019.