Written by Heidi Mehaffey, Esq.
Contributions by Haley Keefer
Hemp cultivation, which has been federally decriminalized and encouraged throughout the states with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, is one of the most environmentally sustainable of the agricultural products: hemp grows in a variety of climates and soils, is naturally resistant to pests thereby reducing or eliminating the need for pesticides, and grows in tight spaces allowing for more productivity in smaller plots.
Florida’s Hemp Program was approved in the summer of 2019
Florida’s Hemp Program was approved in the summer of 2019, and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (“FDACS”) Commissioner Nikki Fried announced that the state is “on the verge of a historic opportunity – a chance for farmers to access an alternative crop, consumers to access safe CBD products, and Floridians to participate in this new green economy, while strengthening agriculture and other sectors of Florida’s economy.”
With a majority of the Florida Hemp Rules approved and already in implementation as of January 1, 2020, i.e. requirement for hemp food establishment permits for the sale of hemp consumables to humans and feed distribution licensing for hemp derived food and treats for consumption by animals, the Cultivation Rule was recently revised in the beginning of March 2020 to conform to guidance issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) in the fall of 2019.
On April 6, 2020, despite many FDACS employees working remotely during state mandated “shelter at home” orders during a worldwide pandemic, the Hemp Cultivation Program plowed forward and filed the cultivation rule for adoption. This action by FDACS began a statutory 20-day time-frame for effectiveness of the rule, culminating in FDACS opening applications for hemp cultivation on Monday April 27, 2020 through an online portal accessible at FDACS.gov. However, FDACS must wait on issuing permits until USDA approves the Florida Hemp Plan, which the Department anticipates could be “any day.”
There are currently over 25,000 uses for hemp products globally
There are currently over 25,000 uses for hemp products globally, with a trend to U.S. grown hemp rather than imports thereby revitalizing the Unites States economy with sustainable farming for endless uses. Nearly every part of the hemp plant can be utilized, from seeds for hemp milk, to stalks for fiber, and leaves and flowers for oil.
With Florida joining nearly every state throughout the United States either selling hemp products or engaging in state hemp cultivation, this is an expanding market with therapeutic and environmental benefits. It will come with a great profit as well, as Florida Commissioner Fried expects Florida hemp “to be a $20-30 billion industry in the next five to 10 years.”
If you are interested in applying for a hemp permit or license, or if you have questions regarding the cultivation application, we encourage you to reach out to the Hoban Law Group for a free consultation. Our attorneys possess the knowledge and experience to guide you through the Florida hemp regulatory process.
Heidi Mehaffey, Esq. is part of the Hemp Regulatory Team with Hoban Law Group, a strong advocate for environmentally sustainable practices, and licensed to practice law in Colorado, Florida, and North Carolina.