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The state has great expectations for its hemp program, approved in 2019.

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Budget conference: Industrial hemp bumped to appropriations chairs

Senate budget head Rob Bradley is a hemp proponent

An appropriation for the state’s industrial hemp program was bumped Monday to House and Senate budget chairs.

The House did not meet the Senate’s request for $4.36 million for the industrial hemp programs, money that would fund 43 full time employees.

The matter will now go to Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley and his counterpart, Rep. Travis Cummings.

Bradley, the architect of the state’s hemp program, was appointed to the industrial hemp advisory council last year, which was created by the hemp bill he sponsored (SB 1020).

Bradley said in a statement there is “a great deal of opportunity, both for Florida’s agricultural community and our economy, that comes with the production of industrial hemp in our state.”

In discussion of last year’s SB 1020, Bradley noted that “the hemp industry has much potential … but is new.”

“It’s similar (to marijuana) … but it’s also not the same as growing apples and oranges, though it may be like that one day,” Bradley added.

It will be up to Bradley to make his case for the industrial hemp spend.

There are a number of other bumped items also, including an ongoing dispute over whether to transfer the Office of Energy  to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

That move has been said to be a priority for Gov. Ron DeSantis by House proponents.

Chair Holly Raschein of the Agriculture and Natural Resources committee, which pushed that bill through, told Florida Politics Saturday that the House “is not going to contemplate that issue.”

She shot down a follow-up quickly, adding that she didn’t think she could be “any clearer than that.”

The move would be budget neutral, yet it has been fiercely contested by Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat under scrutiny in GOP Tallahassee this election year.

Fried has slammed the attempted “power grab … part of a larger plan to … subvert democracy” by giving “unchecked power to the Governor.”

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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