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Fried Rallies Support for the Hemp Industry

June 15, 2019 - 8:00am
Nikki Fried
Nikki Fried

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Friday encouraged supporters of a new state hemp industry to tell Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign a bill that would lead to a regulatory framework for the crop.

Fried said an envisioned hemp “revolution” needs the governor’s signature on the bill (SB 1020), which would create a hemp program within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“If the governor’s office receives any of the phone calls that we have been receiving over the last five months, from the farmers and the people in our communities across the state that are excited, energized and optimistic about this, then he’ll understand and support the hemp legislation,” Fried said while appearing at the Capital Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee.

The Legislature formally sent the bill Friday to DeSantis, along with a proposed $91.1 billion state budget (SB 2500) and eight other bills.

Fried said she has not heard from DeSantis about whether he will sign the hemp bill. DeSantis’ office did not immediately reply to request for comment on the bill.

The hemp measure would require the department to create a regulatory framework that would address issues such as licensing people or businesses that want to grow hemp and requiring them to provide detailed information about where hemp would be cultivated.

The bill doesn’t provide the department with additional funding, but Fried said her staff will be able to develop the program.

“I have met with all of the staff members inside of my office, all of our different division directors who would have a place in this program, and they’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll,” said Fried, who came into office as a major cannabis advocate.

The department has set up hemp workshops Thursday in Pembroke Pines, June 21 in Tampa and June 24 in Tallahassee.

Fried said her goal is to have a first set of rules published in July, with the program running by the end of the year.

State lawmakers passed the bill to take advantage of a 2018 federal law that legalized industrial hemp as an agricultural product.

With hemp able to be used in numerous products, industry supporters contend it could be a boon for the state, including providing a new crop for Northwest Florida farmers and timber operations who sustained heavy damage in Hurricane Michael.

Fried said hemp could become a $20 billion to $30 billion a year industry.

“It’s going to be something that is going to replace all of our Styrofoam, our plastics, our paper,” Fried said. “Hemp is going to be what I call an industrial revolution in our state and across the country, and it’s all biodegradable.”

Fried said the program would also help consumers, who buy currently unregulated hemp-based products sold at gas stations, grocery stores and smoke shops throughout Florida.

“The stuff that is on the shelves right now, I’ve encouraged consumers to not buy, because you have no idea what’s in it,” Fried said.  

Health products now available contain or are advertised as containing low levels of non-euphoric cannabidiol, or CBD. The products, sold in oil, edible or even whole-flower form, are untested in Florida and have become a source of confusion for law enforcement officials and prosecutors, critics say.

“Creating this program allows us the opportunity to put rules and restrictions on there, making sure there are testing standards, making sure there are labeling requirements and then getting that on to the shelves and making sure that our consumers are protected,” Fried said.

DeSantis has until June 29 to sign, veto or allow the bill to become law without his signature.


Well, citrus is dying out due to greening ... and the tomatoes REALLY suck ... so ... switch to hemp. (?)

This is a non-story. If our legislature passed this bill, then it's as good as signed. Our governor has expressed support for cannabis.

DeSantis has until June 29 to sign, tick tock Mark the time and Mark your place in Florida. There is a place for cannabis right next to booze

The cannabis sativa strain that they're talking about here is also known as "hemp". While it can contain CDB and other useful/helpful cannabinoids, it is not an intoxicant.


how wonderful to replace styrofoam and plastic oh, what a plus for our environment and a new industry control that will bring revenue and jobs into our state go Nikki and while I'm at it yes legalized marijuana it's a lot safer than alcohol in non-addictive and carcinogenic like tobacco

The bigger promise here is in hemp lumber (still needs more development work). New homes used to be built with treated lumber and the ground was treated as well to keep termites and other critters from destroying the wood. Now those treatments are outlawed because of their potential side effects and replaced with less effective ones. Consequently, termites and others are again an expensive problem for homeowners. Hemp lumber holds the promise of being able to resist those critters very effectively without chemical treatment. As an added bonus, hemp fiber grows much faster than wood (per acre) and with a small thirst for water.

Makes you wonder what ignorance would deny this product for the betterment of the world. Prohibition is a cloak difficult to shed. As the United States modernizes cannabis laws there are some who resist the change. Some have claimed cannabis is a danger for so long that, to change their beliefs now would require a change in their own personality. Those people use gilded hands to drape the prohibitionist’s cloak on the shoulders of each new person who ascends to power, in hope of maintaining the illusion of evil cannabis for just a bit longer. Like a favorite piece of clothing, the American ban on cannabis has comforted those who sought an easy excuse to justify fear and hate. “Marijuana is bad!” those wearing the prohibition cloak say, to scientists who prove otherwise. “It is bad!” they say, to mothers whose ill children have found relief through the use of cannabis medicines. “It is bad!” they insist, even when government tells them there are no illnesses, deaths or dangers associated with the use of cannabis. That cloak is a comfortable protector for some. Wearing the cloak absolves one of the dual responsibilities of education and personal evolution; there is nothing to know beyond the three-word response and there is no reason to change opinion, either. The cloak has become a shield against the elements of truth and justice, which both are raining down and cleansing our long-suffering society of an illness we should have cured long ago.

They have hemp lumber available for furniture and flooring, but it's too expensive and not competitive for structural home building yet. Hemp fiber has excellent tensile strength, but not so good compressive strength. More development work needs to be done. I've found that showing people the great benefits does more to win them over than confronting them with a sternly pointed finger about how they're wrong.

Precisely correct - an open door to legalizing "recreational DOPE"!

I'm a chain joint smoker. Will this help me?

I didn't realize, how long has she been brain dead? Where can I send a condolence card?

A backdoor to legalizing rope, next think you know kids will be hanging themselves

And they'll be playing jump-rope like nobody's business.

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