Florida set to become a pioneer in hemp production and manufacturing

‘Director of Cannabis’ Nikki Fried believes that the benefits of hemp extend far beyond the financial benefits for Florida’s economy

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Florida set to become a pioneer in hemp production and manufacturing

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Orange groves could soon be replaced with hemp fields in Florida, which received DEA clearance to cultivate the non-psychoactive hemp plant in 2018. The harsh elements of nature have destroyed many of Florida’s once thriving orange groves, which yield significantly less citrus than they did prior to a bout of torrential storms and hurricanes that have lashed the region in recent years.

Extending across 569,000 acres, citrus crops in Florida constitute the state’s second-biggest industry. The orange is an important symbol of Florida, but the state’s first elected female agriculture commissioner seems to think that hemp crops could be more lucrative than citrus crops. 

“I’m seeing it as at least a $5 billion industry,” says Nikki Fried, who feels confident that hemp cultivation could bolster the economy that’s been dented by poor citrus production.  Hemp can help,” she adds, expressing her optimism about Florida hemp becoming the state’s third-largest industry.

Since the plant has the potential to pull in $20,000 per acre, she makes a good point. This is significantly more than the per-acre price of citrus, which tends to range from $2,000-$16,000 per acre.

Florida’s ‘Director of Cannabis’ trusts in the medical potential of hemp

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(Pictured) Florida’s new agriculture commissioner

Since the beginning of this year, when she was appointed as the ‘Director of Cannabis’ under the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Fried has been focused on preparing draft language outlining Florida’s blossoming hemp industry. She has made an effort to clear the smoke clouds that hover over the subject of state and federal hemp cultivation laws. 

Prior to her election, Fried was a medical cannabis lobbyist. Her next goal is to transform Florida into the country’s pioneer in hemp production and manufacturing. Thanks to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp farmers across the U.S. are now treated the same as other agricultural workers; something that has contributed to the ever-flourishing hemp-derived CBD market in the U.S.

Fried, a lawyer from Fort Lauderdale, believes that the benefits of hemp extend far beyond the financial benefits for Florida’s economy. She praises the plant’s medicinal properties, such as its anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic effects, which are being recognized by scientists, researchers and doctors nationwide.

Other places on the U.S. map have already started sowing the hemp seed

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(Pictured) Hemp plants in a field

More than 12,000 acres of hemp crops are spread across Colorado, which was the first U.S. State to get involved in the sector of hemp cultivation. Even though Florida’s hemp plant count is currently resting at zero, it stands a good chance at overshadowing Colorado’s hemp industry. 

Florida is paving the way for hemp, which Fried calls “a miracle plant.” She says that the plant can be transformed into an abundance of different products, including construction materials, clothing, plastics, infused oils, edibles and lotions.

If Florida’s economy is to financially benefit from hemp production and manufacturing, farmers must consider the startup costs. According to the Vice President of the Florida Hemp Trade and Retail Association, Jeff Greene, single seed prices can vary from $0.50-$10. 

When you consider the fact that a minimum of 2,000 seeds are required to yield an acre of hemp, this type of agriculture could be somewhat limited to farmers with a stash of cash.