Hemp expected to be multibillion-dollar industry in Florida

Agriculture commissioner announces hemp workshops

By Jake Stofan - Tallahassee corespondent

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Interest in growing hemp in the state is high following legislation legalizing the plant. 

Floridians will get a say in the future of the hemp industry through participation in a series of workshops scheduled in June.

Hemp is expected to be a multibillion-dollar industry in Florida.

The governor is expected to sign this year’s hemp bill into law.

When he does, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried will be tasked with filling in the blanks in the legislation.

"Having a licensing structure for growing and the manufacturing side and different requirements. What are we actually going to ask for the testing standards to look like,” Fried said.

The Department of Agriculture’s Cannabis Director Holly Bell said she’s been fielding questions on a daily basis from people eager to break into the industry.

"They want to know how soon they can get a permit to grow, what it's gonna cost, how they need to qualify, will there be a limited number of permits,” Bell said.

However, until the department completes its rule-making process, many of those questions can’t be answered just yet.

The agriculture commissioner and cannabis director will tour the state in late June, asking the public what they want Florida’s hemp industry to look like.

There will be three opportunities for public comment: June 20 near Miami, June 21 in Tampa and June 24 in Tallahassee.

"We're making history here, and we want to make sure the citizens of our state are right there by our side, giving input, suggestions, ideas of things to cover in the rules,” Fried said.

Fried said the goal is to get rules in place as quickly as possible in hopes of getting the first crops in the ground by 2020.

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