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Proposal To Setup Hemp Program Moves Forward In The House

Bryan Woolston
AP Photo

While low-THC cannabis or hemp is available in stores, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says it’s not legal …. Yet. Legislation proposed in both Chambers would change that. Tuesday the House bill passed its second committee.

Back in December, Congress passed the 2018 Federal Farm Act. It authorizes states to setup hemp programs.

"This bill 333 allows the state of Florida to setup our own program and we’d be one of the first states in the nation to do so," said Massullo.

That’s Beverly Hills Republican Representative Ralph Massullo he sponsors the bill. During a committee hearing, lawmakers wondered if Florida has missed out on the benefits that other states are already reaping. But Massullo says with hemp the market is different.

"Hemp is a very unusual product. Not too much time goes by in our lives where we actually have a demand for a business that has yet to be established. Usually it’s just the other way around. Usually you develop a business then you go out and look for the demand, and you try to build up that customer base," said Massullo.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is a big proponent of hemp, In February she announced a Cannabis Director to regulate the industry. She wants to make sure the customer base that wants hemp or cbd - a hemp extract - gets what they are asking for.

“Goal is to pass this and then create a program in fact. So that way we have testing standards, we have growing standards and then we’ll have an opportunity for retailers to buy it from licensed distributors her in our state,” said Fried.

Fried wants to be sure consumers don’t accidentally purchase Cannabis with a THC level higher than the legal limit. THC is the part of marijuana associated with euphoria. To make sure only Hemp comes from these farms a provision in the bill requires anything found over the legal limit be destroyed. If a farm negligently grows cannabis over the legal limit three times within 5 years, Massullo says they will be banned from producing hemp for 5 years.

"And it also requires DACS to deny license to any person who was convicted of a felony related to a controlled substance within a 10-year period from the date of conviction," said Massullo.

The vote received no down votes and is now headed to its last stop before the House floor. The Senate version is in its last committee stop.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.