Florida will establish an agricultural hemp program under a bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (AP) — Florida will establish an agricultural hemp program under a bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Republican governor signed the bill Tuesday. It is hailed as a way to help farmers who have been battered by hurricanes and hurt by citrus diseases.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has said the state could soon be a leader in hemp production, given the state’s climate. She says citrus will remain the state’s top crop, but citrus farmers will now have an option of supplementing their groves with hemp.

Hemp is related to marijuana but only has trace amounts of THC, the chemical that makes people high. The plant has a wide range of uses, from ropes and clothing to building materials and animal feed.

Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried offered the following statement:

“Tonight’s hemp bill signing marks a transformation in Florida, and a critical step on the journey to creating a green industrial revolution, strengthening agriculture with an alternative crop of the future, and expanding access to safe, quality CBD products. For months, our department has been developing rules and gathering public input, and we’re hitting the ground running to build a state hemp program that will be a model for the country.”

“Florida has the potential to become the gold standard on hemp — our deep agricultural heritage, climate and resources, and farming infrastructure will make Florida a national leader in this emerging new economy.“

“Congratulations to Senator Bradley and Representative Massullo for their hard work, diligence, and collaboration, and to the Florida Legislature to helping move this across the finish line. Together, we will keep Florida growing.”

In the past week, the department released its draft  rules [  286.65 KB ] for the new state hemp program, which will be finalized in the coming months. Commissioner Fried hosted a series of three  public workshops in South, Central, and North Florida designed to ensure anyone interested in learning more or getting involved with the coming state hemp program had the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.

With over 25,000 uses including environmentally-conscious products and biocomposite industrial materials like hempcrete, food additives and cosmetics, and medicinal products and CBD, cannabis is estimated to become a multi-billion dollar industry in Florida, with the potential to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming decade.

In February, Commissioner Fried  appointed Holly Bell as Florida’s first Director of Cannabis to oversee the department’s state hemp program.