Commercial hemp production in Florida delayed until 2020

While farmers in Florida were hoping to plant hemp in 2019, the state’s hemp program – approved by lawmakers earlier this month – is still awaiting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature.

But the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is confident it will be ready to issue growing permits “by late fall, at the earliest,” according to Holly Bell, the state’s director of cannabis.

“2020 is going to be our first, I believe, great grow year for industrial hemp,” Bell told a group of entrepreneurs and business advocates on earlier this week, according to WJCT, Jacksonville’s public media station.

Bell said once the state agriculture department’s rules for the hemp program are completed, they will be posted for public comment on the Florida Administrative Register, then reviewed internally within the department.

If there are no objections, the rules will be adopted and the program opened.

When legislation was passed by state lawmakers, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was given 90 days to have a plan in place.

“My legal department has already started to craft the rules,” Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried told Hemp Industry Daily in April.

Florida authorized hemp research in 2017 but has not yet seen a commercial industry emerge. Hemp production in the state currently is limited to university research.