Florida marijuana advocates champion changes on 4/20

Posted at 6:41 AM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 10:38:44-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — April 20, also known as 4/20, has long since been a day marijuana and hemp growers advocate for their product. Advocates come from many walks of life, and include hemp farmers, cancer patients and most Democrats.

Changes to marijuana policies typically fall along party lines, but not always.

Recently, it was two Florida Republicans who joined the state’s Democrats in the U.S. House in passing the MORE Act. Republicans Brian Mast and Matt Gaetz voted in favor of the legislation, which would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

In Florida, cannabis is currently limited to medical use. Recreational use is still against Florida state law.

Local businesses, including medical marijuana farmers and those selling hemp-based products are taking the opportunity to push marijuana and hemp education.

PurWell is a Boynton Beach business hosting an event on 4/20. They say, "the event will help attendees understand the medical benefits of hemp-derived CBD."

Hemp can be used as an alternative to concrete, plastic, cotton, and more.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried expressed her support for changes in marijuana policies. She said it's important to show the economic impact marijuana and hemp have on the state and to local businesses.

"Giving them another alternative crop is going to keep a lot of these small farmers in business," Fried said.

Right now, Fried said there is 25,000 to 30,000 acres of hemp or marijuana farming in Florida.

She said one of the biggest issues farmers are facing right now is obtaining a license to grow. Applying for a license to grow cost more than $130,000. That application fee is non-refundable, and the state is limited to issuing only a handful.

"It still costs hundreds of millions of dollars to even get these operations up and running," Fried said. "And you have to be showing significant capital when you're even applying."

WPTV contacted Gov. Ron DeSantis' office for comment but did not hear back. However, DeSantis has previously expressed his support for stricter marijuana policies.