Florida could be growing hemp by the end of the year!
Yesterday was the last of several public hearings held by the Florida Department of Agriculture. The purpose of the hearing was to review proposed rules by the department and to hear public comments and suggestions on the proposed rules on regulating the hemp industry.
On July 1st of this year Governor DeSantis signed into law SB 1020 which legalized the farming of hemp and the sale of CBD products in Florida. SB 1020 lays the burden of regulating hemp on the shoulders of the Florida Department of Agriculture. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has made this one of her top priorities for her department.
This all became possible when the 2018 Farm Bill was passed. Particularly a passage in the Farm Bill where the Federal Government classified the difference between hemp and cannabis. Defining hemp as a plant that has less than .3% Delta 9 THC.
The draft calls for licenses to be issued to farmers who want to grow hemp and subjects them to several regulations and inspections done by the Florida Department of Agriculture.
Notably the rules seem concerned with hemp being an invasive species, total amount of THC in the hemp plant, testing to ensure that the levels of THC don’t go to high, and ensuring farmers use “certified seeds” to start their crops. Although the term “certified seeds” seems a bit too ambiguous to those who attended the hearings recently, they seem to be warning farmers to only use seeds from distributors that are preapproved by the department.
Another concern was the way that .3% Delta-9 THC is determined. The department seems to want to include another cannabinoid, THCA, in the determination of the cannabinoid level. Although THCA is non-psychoactive it can be converted to Delta-9 THC and the department will consider a percentage of this cannabinoid in determining that .3%.
The last major concern was the sale of Phytocannabinoid Rich Hemp Flower. Several CBD stores who currently sell the flower were in attendance, including Chillum CBD Dispensary, who were concerned that this flower would be banned. A straight answer was never given…. A question was eventually asked if the flower from the hemp plant would be illegal for sale. The department representatives simply answered that they were unsure, there is a difference between inhalable and ingestible CBD, and the USDA would have to comment on that before they decide what to do… even if the regulations are adopted before they comment. Generally, the fact that THCA would be considered in the .3% Delta-9 THC was thought to be a ploy to ban the flower. However, the distinction between inhalable and ingestible CBD is where the possibility of a hemp flower ban lies.
These proposed rules are now on their way to the USDA for final approval before they are adopted.