A Florida state house bill would authorize the farming, production, and sale of industrial hemp in the state, effectively nullifying the federal prohibition on the same once put into effect.

House Bill 363 (HB363) was introduced on Jan. 20 by State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D-9). The bill would open up the industrial hemp market in Florida if successfully passed.

HB363 reads, in part:

Hemp is considered an agricultural crop in this state which produces a viable, environmentally sound crop that requires less irrigation, fewer pesticides, and fewer toxic refinery processes than alternative materials and has multiple applications that include a wide variety of manufactured and fabricated products. The Legislature intends to promote economic development, and job growth through the cultivation, processing, distribution, manufacturing, and sale of hemp. Upon meeting the requirements… an individual in this state may plant, grow, or harvest hemp.

Individuals are authorized to cultivate industrial hemp as long as they register with the state, submit a form, and pay a fee that shall not exceed $100. Hemp operations would be subject to regular government inspection and regulation in order to be considered lawful under HB363.

The bill also makes it abundantly clear that state law takes precedence over federal law on this particular issue. HB363 states that “the [regulatory] department may not adopt… a rule that prohibits an individual from growing, processing, distributing, manufacturing, or selling hemp based on its legal status under federal law.”

If HB363 passes through the legislature and is signed into law by Gov. Scott, the bill would go into effect as of July 1, 2015.

Florida has the opportunity to join five other states – Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont – that have already passed similar measures. Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, and farmers in Vermont began harvesting in 2014, effectively nullifying federal restrictions on such agricultural activities.

Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $500 million per year. They count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.

During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!”.

But, since the enactment of the unconstitutional federal controlled-substances act in 1970, the Drug Enforcement Agency has prevented the production of hemp within the United States. Many hemp supporters feel that the DEA has been used as an “attack dog” of sorts to prevent competition with major industries where American-grown hemp products would create serious market competition: Cotton, Paper/Lumber, Oil, and others.

Earlier in 2014, , President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The new “hemp amendment”

…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.

HB363 goes a step further than what is currently ‘allowed’ by the feds by authorizing industrial development of industrial hemp. This is an essential first step forward. Similar to the way medical marijuana prohibition has been nullified because of massive state action, states defying the federal industrial hemp ban can begin a tidal wave of resistance that forces the feds to get their priorities in order.


For Florida: Support this bill by following all the action steps at THIS LINK

For All Other States: Take action in your state to push legislators to introduce and support bills to legalize hemp farming by clicking HERE.

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