Florida universities to begin researching hemp

By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
June 20, 2017

Cropped Photo: Barbetorte / CC BY-SA 3.0

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- With Florida’s farmers looking for a new way to make ends meet, the University of Florida and Florida A&M could soon be in the business of researching hemp.

Legislation allowing the research, which has only been legal since 2014, has been signed into law.

"That they could actually cont on as a cash supplement, even between times when they're growing whatever normally they would grow," explains Representative Ralph Massullo (R - Beverly Hills).

Hemp is a non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana.

It has a long history of cultivation in the US and the country imports about $600 million worth each year.

The University of Florida and Florida A&M both qualify to begin pilot hemp projects. The majority of the funding for the programs will come from private partners.

FAMU says it’s already receiving inquiries from excited investors.

"There are a lot of companies that would like to get on board," said Dr. Robert Taylor, the Dean and Director of the Land Grant Programs at FAMU.

Before the first seed can be planted, the Department of Agriculture has to come out with a set of guidelines for universities to follow. Including how to make sure plants are safe and secure.

The Department of Agriculture has four months to implement rules and guidelines for the research programs.

Even though hemp can’t get you high, it’s still a controlled plant. FAMU says it plan on support from their private partners to keep the plants secure.

“People from the outside may think that it is you know, more marijuana than hemp," explained Dr. Taylor.

The universities will report back to the Governor and the Legislature in two years to brief them on what the research has found. If all goes well the Legislature will look at legalizing hemp cultivation for farmers in the state.

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