Two Florida universities get initial OK to grow hemp for research

A pair of universities in Florida would be allowed to grow and cultivate industrial hemp under a bill passed by state lawmakers.

Once the governor signs Senate Bill 1726, the University of Florida and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University will be authorized to enter a pilot project to research the commercial prospects for hemp in rural areas of the state.

The schools would conduct the research under the guidance of the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services, according to the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, which announced the development in a news release.

The research is intended to determine:

  • Agricultural opportunities for hemp cultivation
  • Best practices for growing, processing and selling
  • Identification and management of pests or diseases
  • Potential to help farmers with new agricultural opportunities

 According to state MMJ business association, Florida will join more than 30 colleges and universities in 20 states that planted nearly 10,000 acres of hemp in 2016 for research purposes.

More than $573 million worth of industrial hemp was imported into the United States in 2015, the MMBAF says.