Hemp growers say ban bills threaten their livelihood
Image by Niksy from Pixabay.

'The giant medicinal marijuana corporations rigged the system so they could control, and profit off of, every facet of the process from seed to end user.'

Florida farmers say legislation backed by the medical marijuana industry represents “an existential threat” to industrial hemp producers and could result in the loss of thousands of jobs statewide.

According to the Florida Healthy Alternatives Association, bills sponsored by Sen. Colleen Burton and Rep. Tommy Gregory (SB 1698, HB 1613) would “kneecap” the state’s industrial hemp market, which has grown into a $10 billion industry over the past five years.

The full Senate has already approved Burton’s bill, which includes a ban on current commercially available and federally legal products, along with a cap on delta-9 THC, which could negatively affect the 487 growers and roughly 10,000 retail outlets in the state. The House companion has one committee stop remaining before it’s ready for a floor vote.

An analysis by Whitney Economics estimates that 6,175 of those businesses would either shutter or relocate outside of the state, resulting in a $1.7 billion loss in infrastructure investment. Additionally, with roughly $4.1 billion in lost retail sales associated with CBD or cannabinoids, estimates of the retail multiplier effect resulting from the ban range from $7.5 billion to $12.5 billion.

Additionally, the legislation would jeopardize the jobs of more than 100,000 Floridians.

Growers say these bills are part of a medical marijuana industry effort to seize total control of the state cannabis market.

“The giant medicinal marijuana corporations rigged the system so they could control, and profit off of, every facet of the process from seed to end user,” said Ray Warthen, co-founder and President of Infinite Zion Farms in Orlando. “Small farmers, like my family, are just trying to cobble together a few leftover scraps so we can survive.”

Rembert Family Farms owner Randy Rembert added, “The connected companies have a guaranteed revenue stream — a big one — and all we are asking is for the Legislature to let us compete in the remaining free market and sell what we grow where it is legal for us to. We’re not even competing with the medicinal folks — we’re selling a completely different product with different requirements and a different process.”

While Florida hemp farms are typically small producers, often with 14 acres or less of production, the Sunshine State is still home to the nation’s second-largest hemp market by agricultural area.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


  • Dont Say FLA

    February 20, 2024 at 7:36 am

    Florida’s voters force hand of G0P. G0P gets blatant about side rigs.

  • FLPatriot

    February 20, 2024 at 1:43 pm

    Because they are growing shyt that isn’t hemp. If you get high from the “hemp” they are selling then it isn’t hemp and shouldn’t be sold.

    • It's me

      February 20, 2024 at 5:04 pm

      So you support banning alcohol then, right?

    • It's me again

      February 20, 2024 at 5:09 pm

      Also, it absolutely is Hemp. They’re just taking the 0.3% or less, extracting it, and then making concentrated edibles. They’re legally bypassing the poorly written laws. It should all be legal regardless. It’s only a matter of time. Stop fighting the inevitable.

  • ArbyB

    February 20, 2024 at 10:48 pm

    So the marijuana companies get to rig the licensing, but people are quoting bad written bills, isn’t that funny. Just like NY, California and others when you try to support big Cannabis the little guy is always going to figure things out. Comprehensive legislation like Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky North Carolina are doing it right by regulating the space accordingly. All florida will do with this bill is create an online for customers to purchase these products and create a huge black market.

Comments are closed.


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