Proposed Rules for Industrial Hemp Published by FDACS

Proposed Rules for Industrial Hemp Published by FDACS

 September 24, 2019 – Last week, The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), published proposed rules regulating Florida’s nascent industrial hemp industry.  The rules, which can be viewed here, provide a comprehensive framework for the regulation of the industry. Once these rules are finalized at the state level, they will be sent to the USDA for federal approval and after that approval is received, likely sometime around the start of the new year, FDACS can begin receiving applications for permits to grow industrial hemp in Florida.

Unlike the rules regulating the state’s medical cannabis program, which imposed strict requirements on applicants and mandated a “vertically integrated” business system that put the rights to grow, process, deliver and sell in the hands of only a few qualifying companies, the rules regulating the hemp program are much more egalitarian. Put simply, if you are serious about growing hemp or processing hemp into fiber or oil, it appears that there will be plenty of opportunity to do so. FDACS expects to permit around 3,000 new industrial hemp businesses in the first quarter of 2020.

  • What applicants need to know
    • The application will require a detailed description of each area intended for cultivation, to include the address, legal description, tax parcel id number and GPS coordinates.
    • Controlling persons must submit to finger print processing.
    • A system for containment of the crop will be required to prevent it from spreading to neighboring land.
    • A waste disposal plan and protocol will have to be laid out in advance for implementation in the event a crop must be destroyed due to excessive THC levels.
    • Only seeds certified by participants in Florida’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Project will be used. To date, participants in the project are the University of Florida and FAMU.

In addition to rules regulating the application and cultivation process, FDACS also released numerous proposed rules regulating what is expected by many to be the fastest growing sector of the hemp industry- edible hemp or “CBD” products. The proliferation of CBD infused products being manufactured and sold in the US over the past several months is a phenomenon that Florida cultivators and investors hope to capitalize on. To that end, the proposed rules also lay out a comprehensive regulatory framework for testing, labeling and tracking the production and sale of edible hemp infused products. Hemp designated for use in edible products will be tested for pesticides, metals and mycotoxins to ensure a safe product for the end consumer. There is even a separate section of rules that will regulate the use of hemp extracts in dairy products and frozen desserts (CBD ice cream?). It appears that a very robust edible hemp infused product market is expected.

Through the simple rolling back of decades of government regulation and prohibition, Florida is about to see a new industry created out of whole cloth. Some value this new industry in the billions of dollars and its economic impact in North Florida should be substantial.

If you have questions about these proposed rules, Clark Partington’s cannabis law group provides independent advice to clients and to our corporate and real property practice groups on issues impacting business, banking, and real property.  Contact Keith Bell by calling 850-320-6838, or emailing kbell@clarkpartington.com.

 

About Clark Partington:

Clark Partington is the largest business focused firm in the Florida panhandle with offices in Pensacola, Destin, Grayton Beach & Tallahassee.  The firm also maintains a presence in South Alabama with an Orange Beach office.  Since 1976 Clark Partington has grown to over forty lawyers and has served the people and businesses of Florida through an innovative and collaborative approach to practicing law.  Our lawyers are consistently recognized for their service to the profession and excellence in the courtroom.  More information about the firm’s practice, its attorneys, and recognitions may be found at www.clarkpartington.com.