FAMU, UF given given the go-ahead to conduct research pilot projects on growing and selling industrial hemp in Florida.

Source: Tallahassee Democrat, Byron Dobson

Gov. Rick Scott late Friday signed the Industrial Hemp Pilot Projects bill into law. It was sponsored by Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, with a companion bill sponsored by Rep. Dr. Ralph Massullo, R-Beverly Hills.

The bill would give FAMU and UF the green light to conduct research projects on cultivating industrial hemp in rural areas of the state.

The universities would work with private partnerships to conduct and pay for the research. All research would be registered with Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Approval for the program is needed by the universities’ board of trustees.

Before she was term-limited out of the Legislature last year, State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda sponsored bills to allow controlled production of hemp — for non-marijuana purposes.

Industrial hemp involves the non-psychoactive species of cannabis and is not the same as medical cannabis. Hemp seed can be used for cooking; its fiber is used in clothes and its stalk used in paper products.

The 2014 Federal Farm Act permits universities and state departments of agriculture to grow or cultivate hemp for research to determine future uses as a commercial project.

So far, 19 states have approved similar bills, with over 30 colleges and universities participating in hemp research.

The bill allows for the universities to develop pilot projects to cultivate, process, test, research, create and market safe commercial applications for industrial hemp.

It requires:

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to approve guidelines involving safety, compliance, accountability, and specified information required of universities.

Universities that implement a pilot project to develop partnerships with qualified project partners to attract experts and investors experienced with agriculture and to develop partnerships with public, nonprofit and private entities;

The universities’ research office will oversee the pilot project, ensure compliance with rules adopted by the Department of Agriculture, identify a contact person who is responsible for oversight of the pilot project, and adopt procedures and guidelines to ensure the proper operation of the pilot project.

If approved by trustees, the universities are required to submit a report to the governor and the Legislature within two years after the pilot project’s creation.