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Florida Universities Begin Laying the Framework For Industrial Hemp Projects

June 20th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
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.
FAMU is gearing up in anticipation for the research to begin.
Florida’s farmers are looking for new ways to make ends meet.
Citrus production is down.
The new law is giving universities in the state with a college of agriculture the go ahead to look at hemp as a possible alternative.
“That they could actually count on as a cash supplement, even between times when they’re growing whatever normally they would grow,” said Representative Ralph Massullo, who sponsored the bill in the House.
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.
Last April we interviewed a hemp farmer from Kentucky, whose family has been growing the plant since the early 1800’s.
Two Universities qualify to begin pilot hemp projects, The University of Florida and Florida A and M.
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 so to speak,” said Dr. Robert Taylor, Dean and Director Land Grant Program 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.
Even though hemp can’t get you high, it’s still a controlled plant.
“People from the outside may think that it is you know, more marijuana than hemp,” said Dr. Taylor.
FAMU says it plans on support from their private partners to keep the plants secure.
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.
The department of Agriculture has 4 months to implement rules and guidelines for the research programs.

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