The Agricultural Committee of the Florida Senate recently advanced a bill that would allow farmers and other businesses to grow and sell industrial hemp in the Sunshine State, according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel. The state bill would get Florida caught up with current federal regulations, as last year’s Farm Bill included legal hemp in all states.
Usually, legalization laws and regulations go the other way around, with states legalizing industrial hemp, or some form of recreational or medical cannabis on a state-level first. This is not the case in the state of Florida, as Republican Senator Rob Bradley indicates in the report.
“The intent here is to get this emerging industry to be viable in the state of Florida and for us to be as cutting edge as possible while also respecting the guide rails that the federal government has provided in this situation. We’re going to push it. We’re going to keep pushing it,” Bradley said.
If passed, the legislation appoints Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as the overseer of regulations and possibly licensing. The Commissioner of Agriculture for the state of Florida, Nikki Fried, lists both industrial hemp and medical cannabis as priorities on her website.
Senator Bradley made sure to point out that the industrial hemp market was separate from that of the medical cannabis program in Florida.
“This is not a reflection of the medical marijuana system. That is a medicine, a controlled substance, and this is different. But it’s also not the same as growing apples or oranges, either, until we evolve this industry and get to a point where perhaps it will be that one day,” Bradley said.
It’s a bit of a head-scratcher that given our modern day advancements in cannabis legalization and understanding of its vast medical benefits, that a state lawmaker should feel the need to point out the differences between non-psychoactive hemp and the plant medicine itself. Also, why shouldn’t the hemp plant be treated like apples or oranges? To Senator Bradley’s credit though, at least he made sure to recognize that cannabis is indeed a medicine, a statement which might not reflect the opinions of his fellow party members in the state.
Currently, the majority of states allow for the growing, processing and selling of industrial hemp to varying degrees. Now that industrial hemp is legal nationwide, it’s time for all 50 states to catch up to that legislative reality.