Hemp legalization clears Florida Legislature

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - If the Governor agrees with lawmakers, hemp will soon be legal in Florida.

Hemp, Photo Date: August 2009 / Cropped Photo: Barbetorte / CC BY-SA 3.0 / (Source: MGN)

It has been in a gray area of the law since hemp was legalized at the Federal level, and the legalization could bring billions to the state economy. So strong is hemp’s promise, it passed both the House and Senate unanimously.

“This is a lifeline. This an emerging agricultural product that can make all the difference,” said Senate Sponsor Rob Bradley.

Hemp is a cousin to marijuana and was banned 70 years ago despite having no psychoactive effect.

House Sponsor Dr. Ralph Massullo calls legislation legalizing hemp a "game changer".

"For CBD and the industrial applications for our state, it will help our farmers, our children get more jobs,” said Massullo.

"I believe CBD alone is a $22 billion industry and the hemp plant is probably a $100 to $200 billion industry,” said Jeff Greene with the Florida Hemp and Retail Trade Association.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried calls hemp's potential nearly limitless.

“I think this is historic for the state of Florida and I absolutely believe this is something that will revolutionize agriculture,” said Fried. "We’ve never seen excitement for a new kind of profit commodity that we have for hemp.”

Without this legislation, products using hemp or CBD likely would have been pulled from the market.

The legislation removes hemp from what has been a legally grey area and opens the door for standardized inspection of products on the shelf.

“My biggest priority is making sure the consumer is protected, and a lot of the products on the shelf, I mean, none of them are regulated,” said Fried. "And a lot of them have other things in there that are harmful to consumers. One, there is no CBD in it, two, some have TCH.”

Now, hemp's future is in the Governor’s hands.