How Florida Is Embracing the Hemp Movement; More States Sure To Follow

Hemp Hype Is Spreading State To State

Hemp is drawing a lot of attention following the recent passage of the federal farm bill which broadly legalized hemp, a cannabis plant that doesn’t comprise euphoria-inducing THC.

Industrial hemp has long been prized as one of the simplest crops to plant, grow and process. Now, thanks to a significant investment from New York State, and to partnerships with New York’s top research institutions and universities, the crop is returning to New York fields with the potential to grow both research and economic opportunity for farmers and businesses.

In July of this year, Governor Cuomo signed legislation that redefined and clarified industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity in New York State. Up to $10 million dollars in grant funding available through two initiatives will aid farmers, researchers and processors embarking on industrial hemp cultivation. The Governor has also established a working group to advise the state and support and guide the industry as it expands.

Wall Street’s top cannabis analysts consider U.S. earnings of marijuana will rise more than she previously projected to $80 billion by 2030 and told clients to anticipate major Canadian growers like Canopy Growth and Tilray to outperform in 2019.

“We anticipate continued growth in recently established U.S. nations, and much more robust increase in Canada as more supply comes online and new form factors hit the current market,” Cowen analyst Vivien Azer composed Tuesday.

Vivian Azer is a broadly followed analyst of this business and one of the few from a major firm which covers the industry. Her previous forecast for U.S. cannabis sales by 2030 was $75 billion. Azer explained that the adult-use market got off to a rocky start as a result of a rushed retail frame (e.g., no stores in Ontario) and inadequate supply available.

Florida Is Next

With officials embracing a potentially lucrative business, Senate Agriculture Chairman Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, is proposing the creation of a state run hemp program.

The bill came after Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried last week called Holly Bell since the state’s first director of cannabis, a position that is anticipated to concentrate on constructing a hemp market. The invoice also comes as agriculture officials say hemp production can help farmers and timber owners in Northwest Florida who sustained heavy damage in Hurricane Michael.

Albritton’s bill mirrors a proposal (HB 333) filed last month in the House by Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto, and Rep. Sam Killebrew, R-Winter Haven, and is similar to a proposal (SB 1020), filed this week by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island.

Under Albritton’s bill, individuals or businesses seeking to grow, process or sell hemp would be asked to register with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It also includes requirements dealing with problems since inspecting sites where hemp is grown and processed.

The bills are filed for consideration during the legislative session which begins March 5.

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