Florida lawmakers have approved a measure to legalize industrial hemp cultivation in the state, moving it to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature, the Associated Press reports.
The bipartisan bill passed the Senate unanimously and Republican State Sen. Rob Bradley called its passage an “exciting and historic day for the state’s struggling agriculture community.”
“There has been a lot of struggles in our agriculture community over the last several years, from citrus greening to the hurricanes, and they’ve had a devastating effect on many of our farmers. This is a lifeline. This is an emerging agricultural crop that can make all the difference.” – Bradley to the Associated Press
Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried was present on the Senate floor for the vote. She said the state has the “right environment” and “right conditions” for hemp production.
“We are known for citrus, so we’re definitely going to continue encouraging our citrus industry,” Fried told the AP. “If they need to utilize some of their property for hemp production, this gives them another option as we’re figuring out and finding a solution to citrus greening.”
Florida is the latest state to legalize hemp following the crop’s federal legalization last year via the Farm Bill. Last month, lawmakers in Hawaii, Iowa, and Oklahoma each sent hemp legalization measure to their respective governors, while the Texas House passed its hemp legislation to the Senate. Under the Farm Bill, state programs must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture before they can be rolled out.
DeSantis’ office has not signaled whether he will sign the bill.