By Paula Savchenko

Everyone wants to get involved in the green rush of the year – cannabis. Attorneys working in the space are getting an influx of calls about hemp cultivation and commercialization. In Florida, SB 1020 is the legal framework that will govern the hemp industry. Further, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is working on finalizing their draft rules, which will then be submitted to the USDA for approval once the USDA has its own rules in place. The Department will also release applications for hemp cultivation, processing and retail once the rules are finalized.

The first step is to decide your business plan, meaning do you want to be involved in cultivation, processing, packaging, labeling, and/or retail. Like any industry, there are many ways to get involved as you can be a plant touching business or an ancillary service provider. 

Then, you need to pick your location and obviously the location will differ based on the type of business you choose to open, i.e. cultivation, processing, retail or ancillary. 

Retail Facility 

If you choose to have an involvement with the handling of hemp that will be ingested, then you will need to ensure your facility is built to code with the minimum construction standards for a food establishment. You also will likely need a food permit from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which is available for submission currently. This process includes filling out an application, having the Department come out to inspect your facility and designating a certified food protection manager.

Then, once the Retail Food Hemp Permits are available, which will be in the end of November to beginning of December of this year, you will need to submit your application. In preparation for this, you will need to draft your application so you can be one of the first to submit your application. Several topics that are required to be covered in the application are covered in the current draft rules.

Once you have determined that your business meets all requirements, you must apply for a food permit no more than 14 days prior to your anticipated opening date. Then, a field inspector will come out and do an onsite inspection within two weeks. The fee for operation of a Hemp Food Establishment is $650.

Manufacturing/Processing Facility

For processing, all food consisting of or containing hemp extract and CBD must meet the labeling requirements found in 21 CFR 101 including:

– The identity of the product.

– A list of ingredients (including sub-ingredients) in order of preponderance.

– The business name and street address of the responsible party (manufacturer), including city, state and zip code or if such information is available through a website printed on the product label.

– The net weight of the product without packaging, including the net weight expressed in metric and U.S. customary form.

The products must also comply with the labeling requirements of Chapter 500, F.S., specifically Section 581.217(7), F.S., and Rule 5K-4.034, Florida Administrative Code. 

All food establishments manufacturing hemp extract and CBD for food or foods containing hemp extract and CBD must employ a qualified individual who has taken the Food Safety Preventive Control Alliance training course.

Once the DACS begins accepting applications, Select “Yes” on the application when it asks, “Do you manufacture, process, pack, hold, prepare or sell any food products intended for human consumption that contain hemp, hemp extract, CBD, or other cannabinoids?” There are additional requirements, including what needs to be written in to the application.

Then you will need to undergo an inspection process and pay the permit fee.

Cultivation Facility

Once the DACS begins accepting applications for cultivation, then submit an application including: a detailed description of each Plot location intended for the cultivation of hemp, including address, legal land description, tax parcel number, and GPS coordinates; a full set of fingerprints for each Control Person; an environmental containment plan for each proposed facility location; a waste disposal plan. There are additional requirements, including what needs to be written in to the application.

More information can be found at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (links provided throughout article). The Department anticipates finalizing its rules soon and having an open application submission available in the end of November to December of this year. This is an exciting time for this industry! If you are interested in getting involved in the industry then call the Law Offices of Moffa, Sutton and Donnini for a free consultation.

Paula Savchenko, attorney at the Law Offices of Moffa, Sutton, & Donnini, P.A., can be reached at