Florida ag commissioner readies state for hemp market

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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried believes state legislators are prepared to embrace hemp.

Florida’s farmers are hopeful that hemp will come to be legal in the state in time to plant this year.

The concept also is gaining recognition amongst lawmakers, with hemp legislation generating its way by means of the Florida state Senate and Property.

Farmers need to have a lifeline, and hemp is it, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried told Hemp Business Day-to-day.

In addition to Hurricane Michael, which caused substantial farm destruction in the Florida panhandle, farmers are dealing with citrus greening – an problem that has all but wiped out the state’s biggest crop.

Florida authorized hemp study in 2017 but has not but noticed a industrial market emerge.

Fried mentioned the political temperature in the state is warming to hemp expansion.

“Our state is prepared to get behind it, and it is ripe to pass legislation this year,” she mentioned.

The Senate version of the bill would give the Division of Agriculture and Customer Solutions 90 days to have a strategy in location.

“My legal division has currently began to craft the guidelines,” Fried mentioned.

“Hopefully we can get this passed and get it rolled out as promptly as attainable in time for expanding season.”

Hemp and marijuana champion

A robust proponent of cannabis, Fried campaigned for workplace on producing a Florida hemp plan, as properly as expanding the state’s health-related marijuana plan.

She traveled to Washington DC twice not too long ago, functioning with the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration (FDA).

“I have been truly pushing our Legislature right here to move as quickly as attainable, to make certain that we have our personal framework right here in our state,” Fried mentioned.

But she also warned that as well a great deal rulemaking by the USDA could stifle the market.

“This is an chance for the U.S. to produce American-produced merchandise and be a leader in exports for this market,” Fried mentioned, “not only for the human side but also for the industrial side.

“And much more regulations are going to preclude persons from having involved in the market.”

She will be searching to the USDA for provisions for seed certification, crop insurance coverage and banking in 2020.

Throughout her run for workplace, Fried saw her campaign bank accounts closed by Wells Fargo and BB&ampT for the reason that she was a cannabis advocate who received contributions from the market.

“Whether it is passing a fair banking act or passing a state’s correct act, it is time for the (federal) government to step up and get out of the way of this legal market that is all through our nation,” Fried mentioned.

Sunshine State ‘needs to be smart’

The state of Florida produced international headlines in February when Fried appointed Holly Bell as the state cannabis director inside the agriculture division to oversee health-related marijuana and hemp.

Fried mentioned she wouldn’t be shocked if much more states implemented the similar kind of position as hemp and marijuana legalization continues to move forward.

Setting up a thriving hemp market in Florida does not cease with cultivation – farmers need to have to have a marketplace to sell their merchandise to, Fried mentioned.

“We have to be sensible,” she mentioned. “As we’re expanding, we need to have to make certain that the manufacturing and processing corporations are there and that the firms generating plastics and Styrofoam are in touch with them to start off transferring more than their solution line to hemp-produced merchandise.”

Fried mentioned Florida “can’t wait 3 years” for the FDA to produce regulations for CBD.

“My issues are that if they preserve moving the ball down the court and do not get on top rated of this sooner rather than later, then it becomes a massive mess attempting to regulate it years down the line,” Fried mentioned.

Laura Drotleff can be reached at [email protected]

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