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Lawmakers look to hemp as new industry

The legislation would create a state hemp program.

With supporters pointing to the potential of a new industry, a House committee Thursday approved a plan for regulating production of hemp.

The bill (HB 333), approved by the House State Affairs Committee, would create a regulatory framework that would be administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which is led by Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a major cannabis advocate.

It deals with issues such as licensing people or businesses to grow industrial hemp and enforcement of the regulations.

The state is trying to move quickly to take advantage of a 2018 federal law that legalized industrial hemp as an agricultural product.

House bill sponsor Ralph Massullo, a Lecanto Republican, said hemp can be used in numerous ways, such as in textiles, animal feed and construction materials.

“This bill will provide jobs and commerce for our state,” he said. With Thursday’s approval, the bill is ready to go to the full House.

A similar bill (SB 1020), sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, also has cleared committees and is ready to go to the full Senate.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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