Randy Rembert: Florida’s existing hemp laws strengthen the industry, prevent bad actors
The state has great expectations for its hemp program, approved in 2019.

Unfortunately, there continues to be widespread misinformation about what hemp really is.

For several years, Florida growers have been able to offer residents a safe and legal agricultural commodity that can help enhance their quality of life and provide numerous wellness benefits: hemp.

Since hemp was federally legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill and then authorized in Florida the next year, this burgeoning industry has infused nearly $14 billion into our state’s economy and generated an estimated 190,000 jobs for Floridians.

As a Florida hemp grower, I’ve seen firsthand how the industry has flourished under a commonsense legal framework that supports producers and small businesses while protecting our state from bad actors and monopolies.

Despite enacting broad hemp reforms that took effect last summer, some lawmakers in Tallahassee are seeking to impose more restrictions on those of us who have followed the laws from the beginning.

Unfortunately, there continues to be widespread misinformation about what hemp really is, falsely demonizing this product to the public and some elected officials. People often confuse hemp with marijuana; although both hemp and marijuana are forms of cannabis, hemp is not marijuana. It is legal under both federal law and Florida law because it contains no more than 0.3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Bills recently filed in the Florida Legislature could stop our state’s hemp industry in its tracks – devastating the farmers and small-business owners who have built their livelihoods around the well-established federal and state guidelines. SB 1698 and HB 1613 would force many to close shop.

The proposed changes are major and include a new definition of hemp, new THC limits that are below the federal level, and a new timeline for testing hemp batches.

Like many others in Florida’s hemp industry, we got started so we could help veterans, seniors, and other everyday Floridians access safe and lawful products that help them live better lives.

A close friend of mine selflessly served in Iraq for several years. Unfortunately, like many veterans, he continued to fight battles when he returned home. Our products not only helped him find relief for his PTSD symptoms; they also helped him sleep through the night for what he said was the first time in years.

This safe agricultural product helped my friend regain his life after his military service, but the proposed legislation could eliminate this option for veterans like him in the future.

Farmers like me continue to grow hemp even without the kind of help government agencies typically provide other industries.

The Farm Bill was intended to be a launchpad for farmers to continue providing the products Americans want and need to live better lives. But if Florida kills our hemp industry, we won’t have anywhere for our products to go. If we’re not able to turn our hemp into finished products, our hard work, investments of time and resources, and economic contributions will be left to die on the vine.

We support the 2023 law that enhanced labeling and food safety regulations on our products. This has ensured that the best products are able to compete in the marketplace while making sure risky items produced by bad actors through dangerous shortcuts aren’t available to the public or made attractive to children.

The laws that Florida already has on the books, including the 2023 reforms, address the safety issues that some Florida families encountered during the industry’s “Wild West” early days. Now is the time to make sure everyone follows the new rules – not to impose more unnecessary restrictions.

Rather than adding a new round of laws and changing the definition of hemp, Florida can continue to safeguard Floridians from bad actors by uniformly applying existing laws to Florida’s hemp producers and manufacturers.

Let’s continue to be the national leader in responsible hemp regulations that support farmers, small businesses, consumers, and families and stop ideas that would overregulate hardworking Floridians out of the industry.


Randy Rembert owns Rembert Family Farms in Hawthorne and was the first licensed African American hemp farmer in Florida.

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