Hemp Industry Taking Off In Sunshine State: USDA Approves Florida’s Hemp Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Florida’s hemp program that will allow farmers to grow hemp in the future, marking the official start of the hemp industry in the Sunshine State.

On April 16, the Department of Agriculture announced that the hemp production plan under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program for Florida has been approved. This is an important milestone for farmers across the state who have been looking forward to starting their journey in the hemp industry.

A brighter future for Florida’s agriculture

The announcement comes to lift the spirits, as the state’s agricultural sector is in great distress due to the coronavirus outbreak that has taken the world by storm in the past few months. State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said this decision would bring a ray of hope for Floridians in such critical times.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been working intensely to draw up the new regulations. After months of hard labor, reviewing drafts, and analyzing feedback from public, growers, and industry stakeholders, the plan has finally been approved. It’s the official start of the hemp industry in Florida, as Fried herself mentioned in her statement.

She also stated that the program will set the gold standard for the entire country, and hemp crops will become an important economic opportunity for all farmers, but especially for those who have been affected by the pandemic. Florida’s state hemp program is deemed to lead the way in the industry, and become an important pillar for the state’s economy. The approval will serve as a tool to fight off the negative impact of COVID-19, providing agriculture with a much-needed boost, and the benefits will be reaped for years to come.

Applications will be accepted beginning April 27

The hemp program will be up and running as of April 27. From this date on, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) will put regulations into practice and supervise all activities related to hemp cultivation in the state. Since USDA has approved the state hemp program’s rules, the next step is for the FDACS to begin accepting applications online at FDACS.gov/Cannabis.

Those who want to obtain a permit for growing hemp in Florida will have to fill out an application on the website. The process will involve fingerprint testing and a background check. However, applicants must take note that those who have been convicted for a drug felony in the last ten years are not eligible for a permit. Also, there won’t be any fees applied for the license.

The green-light from the USDA came right in time, allowing farmers in Florida to begin planning the 2020 planting season. But even if it will take a while for farmers to mobilize and start applying for permits, Florida’s climate is on their side. Hemp can be cultivated in the state all year round. While summer is the ideal season to cultivate hemp for its fiber, during winter farmers can focus on growing hemp to extract CBD. So there won’t be any downtime for hemp growers in Florida, as they’re going to be busy harvesting hemp four times a year, as opposed to other areas in the U.S. where farmers only get two or three crops a year.

CBD on the rise

The new state of affairs is also going to have a significant impact on the CBD market. The cannabis industry has already been on a rising trend in recent years, and the booming market of CBD products is expected to reach new heights in the future. Research has shown that the U.S. is the world’s biggest cannabis market, and experts believe that CBD sales will exceed $20 billion by 2024.

There’s also a noticeable shift in consumers’ behavior since the COVID-19 outbreak began. With non-essentials stores being closed down until further notice, people are turning their attention towards e-commerce and the increase of CBD product sales is a clear indicator of what consumers have in mind at the moment.

Apparently, Millennials and Gen Zers are amongst the most avid cannabis users. In the war against the coronavirus, people have been stocking up on CBD oils, organic CBD nugs, CBD edibles, capsules, creams and other CBD infused items to help them cope with this unprecedented situation. It’s no wonder that CBD has been taking the lead within the wellness industry, considering that more and more people are experiencing issues such as insomnia or anxiety due to lockdown measures. Cannabis is well-known for its natural calming properties and right now anything that can help reduce stress levels is more than welcome.

What’s more, many states have deemed medical marijuana dispensaries as an essential part of the health-care sector during the coronavirus outbreak, allowing marijuana and CBD businesses to remain open. In Florida, patients who are registered with the state for medical marijuana can continue to purchase products from these dispensaries.

CBD benefits

Since CBD seems to be a great ally for people trying to keep themselves sane during the stay-at-home period, it’s worth doing a quick rundown of its benefits. Scientists are still unable to pin down CBD’s mechanism of action on the body. However, what everybody agrees on is the fact that unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive properties, meaning that CBD products won’t make you feel euphoric in any way. Instead, studies have shown that CBD could help with a variety of health conditions, and although more in-depth research needs to be done, the results we have so far seem promising.

Original article by South Florida Reporter

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