Many Florida growers want to know when they can plant hemp

Bill awaiting governor's signature.
Posted at 4:21 PM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-22 16:21:49-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- How much longer until we can plant? Prospective hemp growers are emailing and calling the Florida Department of Agriculture to ask that question after lawmakers passed a bill permitting and regulating the plant’s growth, earlier this month.

The governor still needs to sign the bill, which he is expected to do. After that— it becomes law July 1.

What would follow is likely months of rule making and public comment as the state works to figure out how to manage growing hemp in the state.

“Realistically, if we get through this rule-making process, after the governor signs the bill, then we’re looking at late into the fall to have a program up and running," said Florida Cannabis Director Holly Bell.

She says officials are getting maybe 100 or more hemp questions from farmers and others each day. Hemp could become a multi-billion dollar industry in Florida as growers look to diversify crops and investors hope to cash in on the plant’s popularity.

Excitement doesn’t end at the farm. Hemp users are awaiting the change, too. Guys like Robert Johnson— who just today decided he was switching from medical marijuana to CBD. It’s a product primarily made from hemp and he’ll use to treat his painful neuropathy.

“I would say in ten minutes— it took away everything,” Johnson said. When asked if he was feeling good he said: "Yeah— but I’m not that good. I’m feeling normal.”

Johnson may be saving money in the future as growing hemp locally means CBD providers will be able to buy locally and pass on the cut in costs.

“Buying it locally is huge. Not to mention what it would save on shipping costs— but the amount of jobs it will create," said Your CBD Store owner Joshua Crum.

The hemp bill will also provide regulation and oversight for Florida’s CBD businesses. The state warns— CBD products sold in Florida right now are “unregulated, untested and without standards on what consumers are putting into their bodies.”